After a forgettable year, the Pittsburgh Steelers have major questions to answer.
The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the 2020 NFL season with glaring questions about their offense and the future of their organization. Several players are preparing for career-defining years while the team tries to make one final Super Bowl push with Ben Roethlisberger. Mike Tomlin’s team is the ultimate wild card and no one knows how they’ll perform this year.
Pittsburgh’s defense carried the team last year with the offense failing behind poor play calling and a lack of superstar talent. All eyes are on the offense this season. If that side of the ball fixes its issues, the Steelers could compete for a championship.
However, the Steelers face an uphill battle against some tough questions that will define their coming season.
5. Can Pittsburgh’s run game ignite?
In the 2000s, Roethlisberger led an offense that heavily relied on the running game and used the air attack as a secondary option. In the 2010s, Pittsburgh’s offense did a 180. Now, the passing game carries a running game devoid of inspiration and stability.
Fans might point at Le’Veon Bell and claim the running game crumbled when he sat out the 2018 season rather than play under the franchise tag for a second consecutive year. Pittsburgh’s ground game did take a dive off the deep end when Bell left, but the franchise was already trending in the wrong direction.
In 2016, Pittsburgh’s offense ranked 14th in rushing yards per game with 110.0. The following season, Pittsburgh’s ground game declined to 20th. Then, Bell left in 2018, and the Steelers ranked 31st in rushing, averaging 90.3 yards per game. Things didn’t get much better last season. Pittsburgh ranked 29th in rushing, averaging 90.4 yards per game.
With Roethlisberger returning from season-ending elbow surgery, Pittsburgh’s offense cannot be one-dimensional. The 38-year-old quarterback can no longer shoulder the burden of 600 passing attempts per season. Someone, whether it’s James Conner, Anthony McFarland, or Benny Snell, must take charge in Pittsburgh’s backfield.
Conner did turn in a Pro Bowl performance in 2018, but that didn’t boost Pittsburgh’s rushing numbers. Snell turned in a mediocre rookie campaign and didn’t flash anything special. There’s hope that McFarland, a rookie from Maryland, can inject some new energy into the running back room.