The Myth Of The Old Steelers Defense Is Slow To Die And Far From Over

Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers currently project to field an opening day defense that sports just two players over the age of 30, the old and slow moniker still clings to the team as one of the great myths of the current NFL landscape.

The false representation is, obviously, due in large part simply to ignorance. James Harrison and Aaron Smith are gone. Larry Foote is gone. Casey Hampton and  James Farrior are gone.

It’s now Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones, Cameron Heyward and Cortez Allen. Worilds, the oldest of the group, turned 26 in March. Heyward’s 25th birthday is today.

Why, then, do the draft analysts still justify their mocks when it comes to the Steelers by saying that they have to get younger? The only area in which they are specifically looking to get younger would be Ike Taylor’s cornerback spot.

Because that just so happens to be the team’s most likely first-round target, it’s easy for evaluators and commentators to gloss over the fact that it generally doesn’t apply to the rest of the team on the defensive side of the ball.

The idea that the Steelers are old already has so much social currency behind it that it simply no longer needs to be justified or defended.

That’s why when ESPN covered the news of the team’s press conference about the clean bill of health for Sean Spence, it was presented through the prism of its importance vis-à-vis adding youth to the defense.

That is how the question was thrown to former center Jeff Saturday, and this was his response:

“Well, you’re looking at the oldest defense in the NFL, and at some point you need to begin to shift bodies. You’ve got to get fresher guys in, you’ve got to get guys who are going to be with you for the future”.

The only problem for Saturday is that the Steelers are only the oldest defense in the league by reputation. According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Steelers starting defense as it’s currently projected shaves off nearly four years from the average age from 2011, dropping from 31.1 to 27.4.

Which makes the following comment about Spence’s potential to start even more perplexing: “That’s an exciting thing when a guy’s coming from an injury like this, especially when you’re talking about 24 (year olds) versus 30-year-olds pretty much everywhere else on the defense”.

As mentioned previously, the Steelers currently project to have just two players over 30 starting this year. If Brett Keisel is brought back, that would make it three—assuming he does indeed start.

The most glaringly ignorant aspect of this conversation? Though Spence is slightly younger, the man that he would replace, Vince Williams, is currently the youngest starter on the defense. Way to instill that youth movement.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • William Weaver

    It is frustrating when they “tease” the fact they will be talking steelers in 20-30 minutes so you wait only to find out they have no idea what they are talking about. I find myself knowing more then most national media personnel by listening to the terrible podcast and reading on here.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Pathetic! Remember that these are just sound bites, where their opinions are stated in 30 seconds or perhaps a couple of minutes. They would do better to study teams more thoroughly. Anyway, with 5-6 starters replaced in the past 2 years on defense they have already rebuilt without even telling us.

    I am excited because the Steelers are closer to finding the next nucleus of players that will routinely challenge for championships. A couple of pieces here and there on both offense and defense and they could be there. Go Steelers!

  • Jason

    2 questions on the application for ESPN or NFL Network “expert”. 1) Did you once play football? 2) Can you complete a somewhat coherent statement? Exceptions can be made for #2 if you are a Hall of famer. See Deon Sanders and Marshall Faulk

  • Jason

    Forgot Warren Sapp

  • Paddy

    That’s is just lazy reporting, something that ESPN and the NFL network allows.

  • John21

    The extended draft coverage has these reporters and their reports EXHAUSTED. Nothing to say and more time to say it. If the NFL keeps this draft schedule , they (& we) will regret it.

  • westcoasteeler

    Jeff Saturday is a smart guy. Some of this stuff has to be produced or he is getting old and repeating. He must have misplaced his newspaper.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Maybe it is the way they played, especially last year that they looked old and slow, and in some cases were.

  • Virdin Barzey

    It why I stopped watching those broadcast on ESPN and NFL Network. They’re clowns and just talk crap. They don’t know the teams or what’s going on. This old thing keeps going on because of the idiot Warren Sapp.

  • AndyR34

    I always respected Saturday, as he worked hard and was typically prepared as a ball player. Too bad he has forgotten that work ethic now that he is an ‘analyst’…sad indeed.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    In order to drop almost 4 years from our AVERAGE defensive age, you needed to have trimmed 44 years away from our D. When you realize that even with Clark at age 36, we only trimmed 10 years off of the total age, that is a pretty big swing. A. Smith, Hampton, Keisel, Farrior, Foote, Clark, Harrison. All 7 of these vets have been replaced in our defense in the last few years. They were all starters. Once Ike and Troy are replaced, the D will basically 9 new players for 11 spots. The other 2 spots are CB….which has been through Gay, Lewis, and now Allen, and an OLB spot which went from Woodley to Worilds (we only gained 3 years here in age).

    Ike and Troy will probably be gone after this year. What will are ages be then?

    Allen/New CB(23)/Shamarko/Mitchell

    Average age? 26.3 In 2012 that would have been the 4th youngest defense in the league. Guess what pundits….things are changing and as we develop….watch out.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Let them idiots underestimate us

  • cencalsteeler

    “An aging team that needs a highly successful draft, Steelers concentrate on defense early and bolster linebacking corps. C.J. Mosley” – Barry Wilner, Associated Press
    It’s becoming an epidemic.

  • steeltown

    That’s why I do not listen or watch ESPN or NFL network shows or analysis, it has truly become a glimmer of its former self and is completely washed over with poor analysis and bias points of view from people and former players deemed “experts” most having no clue about what they’re actually talking about.

  • dave

    Speaking of old myths that never go away- there’s always the tired old “Rooney’s are cheap” – even though they spend up to the limit of the cap, unlike a lot of other teams that actually are “cheap”

  • tricitysteel

    The defense is getting younger but they do not make splash plays. They have not replaced their “older” stars with young up-and-comers, therefore the national media mistakenly equates that an older defense. Increase the sacks and INTs, problem solved.