Though the Pittsburgh Steelers may have lost their best back in franchise history and arguably the second greatest receiver of all-time, rest assure that everything is fine. With that being said, there will be no rebuild in 2019.
No Bell No Problem
Le’Veon Bell’s absence was thought to be detrimental to Pittsburgh’s season. However, James Conner proved how productive he could be. This past year, Conner was riddled with injuries, cutting his season short, but ran the ball true when he got the chance.
NYC, let’s do it ✈️ pic.twitter.com/uinxo3J3Se— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) March 13, 2019
Conner scored more total touchdowns this past year(13) than Bell did in 2017(11). Not only did Conner score more touchdowns, he did it in over 100 less carries and 25 less receptions, while playing in three less games.
The young runner was on pace to pass Bell in rushing yards from any season he has played in since entering the league in 2013. Keeping the former Pittsburgh Panther healthy is the key to making the playoffs this year for the Steelers.
AB is Out
Losing one of the greatest receivers of all-time (Antonio Brown) will never help your team, but things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Juju Smith-Schuster was, without a doubt, the best second option wide out in the league last season. A lot of quarterbacks would’ve killed for JuJu to be their first option.
With AB gone, Juju gets his chance and will have all the spotlight. Backing Smith-Schuster up will be James Washington, who has shown in short spurts how good he can really be. Working out the inconsistency with Washington will be important to the success of the passing game. If he doesn’t come along, then Juju draws all the double teams he can handle. This will take him out of the game essentially.
Big Ben still has a few other good options to throw to in Eli Rogers, Vance McDonald, and Ryan Switzer. Even without AB, the Steelers receiving game will roll.
The pitiful defense in the Steel City can easily take most of the blame for Pittsburgh’s failure to make the playoffs in 2018. However, the defense has shown what it can be capable here and there.
Welcome!! Let’s get it! https://t.co/RA2YNJGAnD— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) March 13, 2019
This past year, Pittsburgh allowed only 10 points to the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots while beating them. The Steelers also held the Atlanta Falcons to only 17 points, who are notorious for having an explosive offense. If their defense can be just a few ranks higher in points allowed per game, Pittsburgh will make the playoffs.
Barring a trade, Pittsburgh has valuable assets coming up in the draft, that could turn into day one impact players. The Steelers are still a good team that will be competing for a playoff spot in the NFC North. The rebuild isn’t starting this year, but it’s not that far away. Finding Big Ben’s replacement will be very difficult and that could be what starts the rebuild in Pittsburgh, but not in 2019.