Taking a by position look at this coming season--Offense
It's all about playing together as a team, but I can't help but be somewhat optimistic about the upcoming season. There is lots of gloom and doom about the tough schedule, but just maybe we are the ones those "tough" teams need to worry about because we may have the beginnings of one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
QB-same, but probably better. It just seems like Ben found his stride as an NFL QB last seson. I can't see him taking a step back wards. Batch is a solid back up. Dixon won't be 100% but ypou have to like the potential
RB-improved significantly. FWP back, but won't have to be a one trick pony. Keeping him fresh will only maximize his best asset speed. Mendenhall will be the first legit #2 back we have had in several years and he is close to having a second #1. He will be solid with only inexperience holding him back from being the #1 guy. Moore may be the best 3rd down back we have ever had. Russell could become another UDFA steal and will give us a real three headed monster backfield with FWP and RM. This may be the best backfield in the NFL
WR-Getting Sweed looks like a steal. Holmes looks like he is ready to step up as one of the best WR in the league. Ward is a solid position receiver who on willpower alone can be a force on offense. The only thing you get nervous about is who will be your #4. Injuries to Ward and/or Holmes would definitely hurt particularly Holmes.
TE-IMO Miller and Spaeth are as good a TE tandem as in the league. Many teams have one TE who catches and one who blocks. We have two who can do both. If we get them more involved in the offense I think they are both difference makers because they both have size, speed and pass catching ability. Tough for either a LB or Safety to cover.
OL-Saved this for last because this is the area that most gloomers and doomers worry about. I think this area gets better. Let's consider the following. FWP was at the top of the league in rushing when he got hurt. Someone was blocking for him. There is a lot of emphasis on the sacks allowed, but easily 20-25% of those sack were on the QB trying to extend plays and could be easily rectified by Ben getting rid of the ball either to TEs and RBs or just throwing it away. Yes we lost Faneca, but does anyone really think the Faneca of 2007 was the same as the Faneca of 2000-2005? Hartwig will solidify the center position. Starks I think will regain the RT position. Smith seems healthy. If our OL stays healthy I expect a improvement in this area. I expect them to be at least the same which resulted in our QB having the best season of his career and our RB a league leading rusher.
Coaching-Improved. A staff filled with coaches working with the team and players for the first season. There was a learning curve and I think we see benefits this year. The biggest thing I want to see here is the inclusion of quick, short passing plays to take the heat out of the opponents pass rush. We saw how good Ben can be doing this early in the J-ville playoff game. If he and Arians embrace this then I think they will put up huge numbers.
Summarizing, I think this offense will be better than last season. More weapons and more experience. I think it is our opponents who need to worry not the Steelers.
- Charles Harris-OLB, Missouri
- Rasul Douglas-CB, West Virginia
- Chris Godwin-WR, Penn State
- John Johnson-S, Boston College
- James Conner-RB, Pitt
- Nazair Jones-DT, North Carolina
- Garrett Sickels, DE/OLB, Penn State