Quote Originally Posted by steeler_fan_in_t.o.
Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler
I definitely view the age issue as a concern. Especially when you combine it with the possibility of injury and lack of depth at the position... The tail end of the season last year illustrated this point perfectly, IMO. ... Basically, from the Jets game onward, I didn't think we had that rough, tough, bruising defense that we all are accustomed to. ... There were drives late in the game that weren't stopped that cost us points and/or the game. ... Yes, they racked up awesome stats early on throughout the season, but faltered in the end... Was it age? Injury? Lack of depth? .... I think it was a combination of all of the above, and a little bad luck as well.

IMHO, we have to be able to finish the season strongly and weather whatever issues arise. Otherwise, having the top-rated defense in any category doesn't mean squat.
The biggest factor in our defensive decline was injuries, not the team wearing down due to age.

Unfortunately, we were hit at positions where we had the least amount of depth on D. Aaron Smith has proven tough and reliable over his career. I don't expect him to become injury prone now. I started a thread a few weeks before his season ending injury last year naming him our Ds most important player - the position with the biggest drop off between starter and backup (if not the best player as well). His return makes our D much stronger.

Ryan Clark also proved how valuable he is by going down in a freak occurence. He is a big question mark going into this year, but if he is recovered then our D is much better and tougher than the one we fielded against the Jags.

Troy has been injured and relatively ineffective the past few years - since his dominating '05 season. He has returned to his training roots, and if he can stay healthy again then that seriously upgrades our D once again.

That is three positions that are greatly improved with just having the players return to health. This has nothing to do with factors such as upgrading our starters (Woodley), players hopefully improved year over year (McFadden, Timmons) or young kids stepping up and contributing (Davis).

This D should be better than the D that led the league last year, but couldn't deliver in the end.
If Clark returns to full health, it will be icing on the cake for this defense. If not, I hope B Mac steps up and Townsend can mover to FS. Anthiny Smith is not the answer.

Troy will stay healthy if LeBeau quits using hime as a defensive tackle rushing into the center of the offensive line and wrestling with 300lb linemen. Keep Troy back in coverage and he will get more than 5 INTs which is more sacks than he could ever hope to get.

Timmons and Woodley will take the first step returning our LBs to dominance. Woodley will have 10+ sacks and Timmons will add 5 sacks and 3-4 INTs.