Return of the Steel Curtain
Well Yinz I have good news and bad. The bad news is our hopes of a perfect football season were destroyed by the Bears, of all teams. The good news though is we have redeemed ourselves with a nice 26-9 beatdown on the Ravens and are still a comfortable 3-1 (a better record than the pats).
This week I want to go beyond the scores and talk about the reemergence of some old time Steeler football, the legendary Steel Curtain defense. From Mean Joe Green to Troy Polamalu, our defense has been our pride and joy and is what brought us six Super Bowl championships. The past couple years, however, that shut down defense has seemed to fade a bit, letting our speedy offensive talents take over the show. This season I see a new emergence of the curtain, with a wave of young talented defensive players leading the charge.
This new wave is what brought the Steelers to be the 3rd ranked overall defense in the league. They have allowed a meager 14.8 average points per game (2nd in the league) and only 267 total yards on average. Compare that to a mediocre 12th ranked defense in 2016. This rise is due to a combination of acquiring new talent and experienced players developing into their full potential.
Although we still rely on the veterans like Cam Heyward and James Harrison, the young linebackers and secondary behind them have been stellar. The big story now is the future of the Steelers, rookie T.J. Watt (Left). This kid has defense in his blood (his brother is all-pro DE J.J. Watt) and shows it. He was drafted to be eased in as James Harrisons replacement over the next couple years, but due to Harrison’s injuries, Watt has become our go-to man. It’s safe to say he’s filled this role well, already compiling 12 tackles, 2 sacks, an interception and a safety.
While T.J. Watt puts up some very impressive rookie stats, his partner inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (Right) has finally emerged to his full potential. Shazier is in his 3rd season with the team and has been a decent backer to this point, but just decent. In 2015 and 2016 he averaged about 5.4 tackles per game. This season, he has exploded with 9.3 tackles per game. He has emerged as the team’s leading defensive player and ranks 4th in the league with 37 tackles this season.
The emergence of young players such as Shazier and Watt as team leaders combined with the entire Pittsburgh defensive working as an impenetrable unit, the Steel Curtain will rise once again. This will take the pressure off our offensive and allow the Steelers to compete with those dreaded Patriots.
Let’s hope the Steel Curtain is enough when we face off against Jacksonville at 1:00 pm on Sunday. To much surprise, the Jaguars are no longer the 32nd team in the league. With emerging stars as Leonard Fornette and Allen Hurns leading the pack, they have worked their way to a deserving 2-2 record, putting them first in the AFC South. The Steelers are going to have to bring their A game and be ready to shut down Fornette and his 2nd ranked run game. I still think we have what it takes however so…
My prediction: Steelers- 24 Jaguars- 17
HERE WE GO STEELERS!!!