All NFL teams have their warts, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are no exception.
But their primary vulnerability could potentially upend their title hopes more so than any other team in the league.
According to Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson, the Achilles’ heel that could potentially derail Pittsburgh’s season is their remodeled offensive line.
“Pittsburgh will roll into the 2021 season trying to replace effectively an entire offensive line in one offseason,” Monson wrote. “Some 3,645 snaps from starters last year are gone, and the only player penciled in to start this year who did so a year ago (Chukwuma Okorafor) wasn’t supposed to and only had the job because of an injury to Zach Banner.”
While the defense is certainly still elite and the offense is full of weapons, Monson believes Pittsburgh suspect offensive line will prevent the team from generating the down field passing attack it lacked in 2020.
“The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger back chasing one more Super Bowl, and they have both the defense and receiving weapons to make that run, but their passing attack may never have the platform it needs with this offensive line,” Monson wrote. “Roethlisberger had an average depth of target of just 7.4 yards last season, ranking 26th in the NFL and coming in as the lowest mark of his career. His big-time throw rate was also well down from his usual number. Those are numbers that have to change for the Pittsburgh offense to get to where it wants to go, and both need a solid offensive line in front of him to do so.”
Not only did center Maurkice Pouncey retire and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva leave in free agency, but the Steelers surprisingly released guard David DeCastro late last week.
The club drafted guard Kendrick Green in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but he will most likely not be prepared to play significant time by the season opener in Buffalo.
Pittsburgh had league’s worst rushing attack in 2020 mustering just 3.6 yards per attempt. They only allowed 14 sacks, but that was largely due to the Steelers’ short, quick passing game, not pass blocking prowess along their front.