Which Steelers Need A Bull or Bear Season?
The words “Bull” and “Bear” are synonymous with the stock market. A bull market is considered on the rise, while a bear market is considered to be on the decline. However, for our topic of discussion, a bull will be a player that needs to increase his performance from last season, while a bear is a player, that we feel, can deliver the same goods as last season and still be a significant contributor to the team.
Without further adieu, here are our bulls and bears for each position heading into 2014:
Here’s a contradiction right at the start of the list: Roethlisberger can help this team as both a bull and a bear! It’s hard to be bullish and expect more from Big Ben, who arguably had his best season of his career in 2013. That’s why we’re going to label Ben a bear: if he plays to the level he did last season, the Steelers should be in cruise control. However, we would not be disappointed if he gave us a bull performance and outdid himself in 2014!
It would be tough to expect another 110 catch season out of Brown, but he will be the primary target heading into the 2014 campaign. If Brown can be a bear in catches and touchdowns, the Steelers’ offense will be for the better.
All Other WR’s
All bears: The contingent of Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Martavis Bryant and Darrius Heyward-Bey has to fill the shoes of two departing players: Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. Between the latter two, the WRs scored 16 touchdowns in 2013. However, all 15 were in the redzone, and the duo combined for only a single touchdown in 2012.
I’m confident four players can average 4 touchdowns each, no matter who wins playing time on the field. (Derek Moye, for example, only caught 2 receptions last season, with 1 being a touchdown.) It will also help that a healthy Heath Miller will be available from day one, as he should also see his fair share of redzone targets.
Bull: Beachum was another pleasant surprise of the 2013 season. A seventh round pick in 2012, Beachum is undersized as a left tackle, but started 12 games in lieu of Mike Adams last year. If Beachum continues to improve his game under new line coach Mike Munchak, he may be the last piece needed in what has been a long process of overhauling the offensive line.
Bear: The right guard is nearly a Pro Bowl quality player already. All Pittsburgh needs if for DeCastro to stay healthy and continue his progress.
Bull: Last season McClendon replaced long-time nose tackle and perennial Pro Bowler Casey Hampton, but the memory of Hampton still remains. McClendon came to camp beefier than last season, and hopes to use his growth in size to help overpower opposing offensive linemen. The defense will rely on him eating up at least two linemen and opening holes for blitzing linebackers.
Bear: Like DeCastro, Heyward only needs to stay the course and play up to the level he set last season.
Bear: Yes, a bear! Worilds too needs to bring the same “A” game he set last season. Anything above and beyond would be a boon to the defensive unit, however…
Needs to be a bull and quick. Comparisons will be made of both OLB’s to their predecessors. Another 1 sack season won’t cut it for this former first round pick.
Bears: Troy Polamalu was his old self in 2013, including several dramatic plays that made fans cringe for his own safety!
Mike Mitchell was brought on to replace Ryan Clark, who was routinely a leading tackler and hard-hitter. Mitchell brings a turnover-inducing style with him from Carolina, where he had 4 sacks, 4 picks and 2 forced fumbles: Pittsburgh would welcome the same to their defense this season.
Bulls: The Steelers didn’t select a cornerback until the 5th round of the draft, signalling a bullish approach to veterans Ike Taylor and William Gay. Cortez Allen saw significant playing time last season and several times found himself covering the opposition’s #1 receiver. All will need to step up their game as they did toward the end of last season.
Bear: how much better can we expect Shaun to get? The placekicker missed all but 2 field goals in 2013, and has been so consistent, the team didn’t bring in another kicker for camp competition.
Adam Podlesh and Brad Wing
Bulls: Pittsburgh burned through 4 punters over the course of last season. One of these two players will need to secure the punting job and help the defense by pinning opponents into unfavorable starting field position; something the team desperately lacked during their 2-6 start in 2013.