As training camp opens up today, it’s time for my annual “Seven Reasons” article. Hopefully next year it will be titled something different but until the Steelers hoist Lombardi number seven, this will continue to be an article discussing the seven reasons why the black and gold will win their seventh Lombardi trophy and the seven reasons why they won’t win it this year.
Since I’d prefer to end the article on a high note, as I hope the Steelers will end the season on the highest of notes, I’ll start out with the seven reasons that may prevent the team from achieving their ultimate goal this season.
Why they won’t win it all this year
1. Le’Veon Bell
What? You’re surely asking: how can Le’Veon Bell be a reason why the team won’t win?
Don’t worry, he’s certainly going to be on the subsequent list below, but he’s on this list due to his history of not playing a full season. Whether it be a suspension, an injury or now potentially a hold out into the season, Bell has not played a full season through the playoffs yet. If he can’t be there for all 16 games and specifically beyond, the team won’t win it all this year.
2. The defense doesn’t take the next step
The young defense of the Steelers made excellent strides last season but the team needs to avoid sophomore hangovers from Artie Burns, Sean Davis, and Javon Hargrave. They are all going to play big roles on this defense and if they take a step back this season, the Steelers could fall back with them.
I’ve always liked Vince Williams as a player and so have the Steelers.
So much so they let Mike Tomlin’s very first draft pick ever, Lawrence Timmons, leave via free agency. I’ll remind you that Timmons was the team’s leading tackler for several seasons running. It’s now on Vince Williams to fill that role.
Williams doesn’t need to lead the team in tackles but he’ll certainly need to make enough plays to mitigate the loss of Timmons. If he doesn’t, well, you get the idea…
4. Landry Jones
I’ve defended Landry Jones as a backup for a few years now and I’ll stand by that. I do think he’s solid backup, but, if Ben goes down and Jones needs to play multiple games or God forbid in the playoffs, it’s over.
5. The Patriots
I don’t think I need to cover this one too in depth, do I?
6. Mike Tomlin
I’ve long said Mike Tomlin mismanages the clock and lets arrogance get in the way when making decisions. I don’t care for the reckless nature in which he goes for two point conversions. I also believe he’s put the team in situations where they’ve had to play from behind or play with more urgency due to some of his calls.
If he gets in the way by doing this again, the team will be handicapped and unable to go all the way.
7. The Secondary
I like Burns, I like Davis, and to a degree, I can handle Mike Mitchell.
But beyond that, I don’t have much trust for the rest of the group. I still don’t buy Ross Cockrell and I’ll never believe in William Gay; no matter how many times he returns a pick for a TD. They need to find a better number two guy behind Burns. If they don’t or if the guys they have don’t step up and play to that level, guys like Brady will feast on them all day long.
Here are the Seven Reasons why they WILL win
1. Number 7
As always, the number one reason is Number 7, Big Ben Roethlisberger. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in all of football and somehow, he seems to get better every season.
This team will go as far as he takes them and he can take them very far. He’s clutch, he’s smart and he’s a leader with two rings to prove it.
2. The arsenal
With Antonio Brown, the best receiver in football, Le’Veon Bell, the best running back in football, and Martavis Bryant, a budding superstar would could be a number one receiver on many teams, the offense is stacked and can absolutely shoot for 30 points per game.
If they score the way they’re capable of, they can go a very long way.
3. Players coming back
Assuming Bryant gets reinstated and stays on the field, he’ll be a big addition.
But let’s not forget that Cam Heyward is returning too. He missed the last six weeks of the regular season and the playoffs. Bookending him with Stephon Tuitt on the defensive line will be a huge (re)addition.
4. The offensive line
The line got big news this week with Alejandro Villanueva signing a new four-year deal. With Al happy and back in the fold, this unit has spent a ton of time together over the past several seasons.
In doing so, they have kept Big Ben upright more often. Under the leadership of Mike Munchak, this unit has become one of the best in the NFL.
5. The rookies
Like last year, rookies will play a big part of this team in 2017.
T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cameron Sutton, and RB James Conner will all play big roles on this squad throughout 2017. These guys could find themselves in starting roles or at a very minimum as playing big roles as backups.
They are all talented and capable of helping this team win now.
The death of Mr. Rooney should be a massive motivator for the team this season. They all want to win one for him and I fully expect this to be a factor that motivates them all season long.
Harrison, the freak of nature that he is, is on a mission to get one more ring before he retires. He’s a true leader and will be leading the young defense all season long. He brings passion, fire, and motivation to a young team that needs it.
No matter how far this team goes this season, it should be a great ride. They have the talent and skill set to go a very long way. As with any season, it could go in any direction and there are multiple factors that play out but these are the top seven reasons why they will or won’t get it done in 2017.