Steelers Changes In 2013 A Good Thing: Don’t Bet On A 6-10 Season

By Jeremy Hritz

Across the world for many Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the sky is falling, and optimism for the 2013 season has all but dissipated and has been replaced by a pessimism that is forecasting a 6-10 season or worse. While the first week of free agency has not provided many reasons to celebrate with the departure of many big name starters, the approach of the organization should not come as a surprise, as it has always been the standard.

And for the last ten plus years, it has been effective.

Sure, Mike Wallace and his blazing speed departed for Miami, and the Steelers will no longer have the threat to hit the end zone each and every single play. However, for every splash play that Wallace provided, there were just as many drops that stifled the offense. Ultimately, Mike Tomlin was right, Wallace was a one-trick pony, and while it was a very good trick, he did not bring a complete game to the table. He is replaceable.

And yes, James Harrison has been cut, and the Steelers figurehead for several years may sign on to play in the division after the smoke has cleared. Harrison at one time was an animal that delivered the big plays that made the defense a force. However, after multiple injuries and age, the likelihood that he will return to the form of his youth is a delusion. While he can be serviceable, he will not dominate like he has in the past. At one point in time, if someone would have said that Harrison would be the defensive player of the year and deliver the greatest play in Super Bowl history, you would be looked at like you were nuts. Who is to say that Jason Worilds cannot deliver maybe not at Harrison’s level, but still at a high level? We need to give Worilds a chance to see what he can do in a full season as a starter. Who knows, maybe he will make Harrison an afterthought.

Then there is Keenan Lewis, who played well this past season and was the Steelers best corner. He, along with Ike Taylor, was a huge reason why the passing defense was solid. But just how many interceptions did Lewis deliver? Exactly. This is not to discount what Lewis contributed to the team, but if the organization felt that Lewis’ play was worth the cost, they would have forked out the cash. But they didn’t, and there is a reason for that decision. On the bright side, Cortez Allen appears primed to not only limit receptions and passing yardage, but it appears that he has the knack for the big play, and he could provide the turnovers that have been absent over the past two years.

Lastly, Emmanuel Sanders, if he gets an offer sheet and signs it, great. That’s a third round pick for the Steelers in a year that they need it in the draft. Sanders is a good, not a great, receiver, so the loss won’t be huge. And if you are concerned about the receiving corps, just remember that Ben Roethlisberger led his team to a championships with the likes of Antwaan Randle-El, Cedrick Wilson, Nate Washington, with the only big-timers being Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Remember, Roethlisberger can make it work with anybody, and with Antonio Brown to build around, the passing game will be just fine.

It is easy to condemn 2013 in March, but just keep in mind that the glass is half full and that the Steelers do have an elite, franchise quarterback. The changes that are happening were unavoidable and the youth movement has long been anticipated. It’s finally here, and it will be exciting to see which new stars emerge.

Here’s to a new era of Steelers football.

  • Jollyrob68

    They use to let vets go a year early to see what the have with replacements. However they’ve kept some too long. “Just one more year” seems to have caught them with their pants down. But they don’t panic and Yes they’ll be fine.

  • mokhkw

    I agree. I think some are most disappointed with the loss of Lewis, but it sounds like he wanted to go home & took the Saints offer over another one which was even higher – this was a bidding war which the Steelers or any other team were going to lose.

    It’s March & business as usual for the Steelers.

  • hex0013

    “But just how many interceptions did Lewis deliver?”

    I am so sick and tired of hearing this argument. Lets’ just go back to the days of Chad Scott where every pass defense was either an 80 yard touchdown or interception. Who cares about interceptions when you’re consistently getting deflections and good coverage out of a corner? Losing Lewis will absolutely hurt our defense, any other narrative is just plain stupid.

  • Garrett Hunt

    It has been awhile since a younger player stepped up to be a star and game changer on the defense. Hopefully the drought will be ended with Cortez Allen. All I know is that our ultimate success next season (postseason success) could ride and be parallel with his success next season. If he turns into the player we all know he can be then look out for the Steelers in the play-offs. Can’t wait to see what he can bring with a chance to be in the starting line-up, my eyes wil be glued to him.

  • rob.pghsteelersfan

    I agree it will be very exciting to finally see what these young guys can do. Like you said whether it’s Allen, Worilds or even McLendon, new stars will emerge. Good article.

  • Michael Pearce

    Losing Lewis was the only real loss so far, but he was a huge loss to the CB position this year and for the future.

  • alex

    me thinks you missed the need for pressure on the outside and a running game!

  • Kysteeler

    I agree with all that you have to say, and it is pretty much the same view point I have. However, I would feel much more comfortable if our running game was in place. We must have faith that the FO knows what they are doing. They hardly ever let us down.*Knock on wood

  • alex

    i do wanna see what Worilds can do cause he has good numbers as a
    PTr…he can get to the QB, but can he hold the edge?

    and is Cotch at all a Ward replacement? He did come from the Jets
    who plowed through a ton of yards in his last 4/5 yrs w/ them, and hes a veteran who can teach our kiddies at WR.

    first pick OLB 2nd RB/WR 3rd WR/RB and then fill the gaps from there on…

  • rizzo29

    Mr Hritz forgot to mention when they won the championship they had a dominating def, there going to have to put up a lot of points a game this year with this secondary.

  • steeltown

    I agree with Hritz…. The sky is NOT falling

  • steeltown

    Agreed. Take Cortez Allen and add…

    McLendon who seems to bring extra intensity up front.. maybe its a quicker first step than we’re used to but when he’s on the field, good things happen

    A new OL zone blocking scheme and new OL Coach…. and a new RB drafted to fit this scheme

    Worilds and A.Robinson with another year under their belts

    A new WR Coach.. and a new WR drafted

    All of these things combined make this a very interesting year for our Steelers

  • charles

    Like to see Gilreath and Golden, heres to a great draft.

  • mlc43

    yeah…it’s just the ground rising very fast. 😉

  • steeltown

    We had Ike and Gay as starters in 2011, that year our pass defense ranked #1.. and 2010 when we made it to the big game we had Bryant Mcfadden opposite Ike in the secondary….. just saying, lets wait and see

  • rizzo29

    Harrison and woodley were beast then and troy was playing like troy,I,m wishing for the best but I don,t see it

  • homewood619

    We will be o.k. folks….we have a lot of capable players on the team!

  • Jazz

    It was never a bidding war for the Steelers, they never offered him a contract. Obviously they didn’t see the value of offering this guy $30 – 35M over 4 or 5 years. I’m sure they had their reasons, I just hope they are right. Yes, I remember those days with Chad Scott, Lee Flowers, Hank Poteat and a few others. And for the record, Bill Cowher had the worst Secondary of a Steelers Head Coach. I just had to throw that one in there for all of those Cowher Lovers. I guess they are banking on Cortez Allen, I hope they are right.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Obviously there are other concerns, but I think Cortez Allen is the key ingredient. The key to the Steelers success historically is defense. And the key to the defense last season was excellent pass defense. Thus, Cortez Allen is key to the Steelers success.

    Dick Lebeau is a master of covering up weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball. And as long as Ben is healthy, our offense has a chance to outplay opponents in key situations any day.

  • John Mazza

    I think it’s the same old here. Next man up. I think that Cortez gives us better chance for the turn overs. I think McClendon is a beast in the middle and I like the speed of worilds. I just wonder of there’s some kids in the draft that can play CB and safety. I think getting some one of two taken this year will be huge. Tomlin and Colbert have proven they can get WRs and RB in the 3rd and below and I like the depth of RB and WR this year.

  • urstudent

    agree with most the article, even including the E Sanders part, but the K Lewis part is kinda BS. Lewis is one of the top 10 corners in the league and might be the best young corner in the league. If they had locked him up they’re DBs would be set for a long time. Cortez should be OK for this year, but idk if he can be a #1 corner in a year (Ike has 2 years left max).

  • redneckmuslim

    I’m not worried about the defense. I think coaches Lebeau, Mitchell, Butler and Lake will put a good product on the field no matter who they have to work with. More turnovers would be nice, but I’ll take around 300 yards allowed per game, year after year, without complaint.

    My worry is the running game and I’ve been worried since Jerome retired. We have a hall of famer at quarterback, but we cannot keep asking him to make magic happen on third and long every single series that he is on the field.

    For the love of God, we need to get 5 or 6 yards on that first down run play with some consistency. I think Art Rooney agrees, which is why he uncharacteristically called the team out on that last year. Until we get that fixed, I will exercise my right to act like the sky is falling and whine like a schoolgirl on every three and out.

  • Dan

    Spin it this way, spin it that way, the team has not improved this off season. We’ve just been addressing cap issues. We’ve certainly had a better off season than Baltimore, but we have a net loss of talent. That’s not to say that we can’t have a successful season if the younger players step up, but we really really need younger players to do well.

  • mokhkw

    You’re right, it was never a bidding war because the Steelers knew he wanted to go home to New Orleans & didn’t offer anything. And why would they? The only chance they had of him returning was if he got low offers, making their own offer doesn’t make sense given the circumstances..

  • thePRSF

    We’re supposed to be optimistic?? It’s not just losing our biggest stars and core play makers, it’s about an anemic offense that doomed last season’s chances. (Roethlisberger’s injuries not withstanding) The Steelers looked like a pre-season team on offense the entire year, with or without Ben. Even on their best game they’d be hard pressed to score 35 points. That’s not going to cut it in the NFL. That’s their problem–scoring points!!

  • Cody Younkin

    I would take the third round pick, draft DeAndre Hopkins in the 1st/2nd and get Da’Rick Rogers in the third. That would be amazing having Brown, Hopkins, and Rogers. Just an off the wall idea

  • Guest

    Yes, Ben may have won a superbowl with those guys. However, the defense was significantly better in 2005 and they had a top five rushing attack.

  • This is the most accurate statement yet. The elephant in the room is the Haley offense and whether these players can be productive in it. Further, I hope we can find a serviceable running back now that the O-Line has the potential to be a strength next year (when was the last time you heard that about the O-line).

  • The personnel losses, I feel, weren’t really that debilitating but I wished that they would have broke out of their norm and signed a couple of half decent FAs, for depth.

  • Bradys_Dad

    I like this optimism. We all should. No one ever got to the promised land by saying “oh woe is me.” Let’s put on our big boy pants and move forward. There is one glaring ommission from this post and that is the one of running back. I still contend that it may have been worthwhile to have offered Mendy a 1 year deal. There’s not a great crop of RBs in the draft and let’s not even get started about the currently available re-treads. I for one am excitied about the prospects of a new future. God Bless America.

  • Ahmad

    I expect at least 10 wins this year. The Steelers have a bad year every three years and they always bounce back. 2004: 15-1 2007: 10-6 2010: 12-4

  • hergieburbur

    SOme people cannot see past stats.