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[author image=”https://www.the3pointconversion.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Duane.jpg” ]Duane Harrington, @twins_inc [/author]
We can all agree that Troy Polamalu has been a sore spot for quarterbacks and offensive coordinators for the last 10 years plus. The Pittsburgh Steelers are now once again looking at one of the toughest schedules for the 2015-2016 season. “Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t”!!! Their opponents’ winning percentage was .579 a year ago (147-107-2) top in the NFL entering this season. Pittsburgh’s defense will be without veterans Ike Taylor, future Hall of Famer Polamalu, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and unexpected retiree Jason Worilds. The Steelers have made a lot of changes on their defense and has gotten younger over time.
Shamarko Thomas was drafted in the 4th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. He has not lived up to their hype, which was 4.42 secs, 40 yard dash, and his hard hitting since leaving college. Thomas is now in his 3rd year and has been sidelined because of multiple injuries, and with Polamalu retiring, he must quickly get up to speed. Thomas has the skill set to be as successful as Polamalu but Pittsburgh needs for him to stay healthy. Thomas is entering his final year in his rookie contract which can be his break out or last season.
Jarvis Jones, no pressure!! Jones was drafted with Thomas in the 2013 draft; he was the Steelers #1 overall pick at 17. Jones is the reason the Steelers did not want to pay James Harrison which caused him to play for the Bengals in the 2013-2014 season. Despite his injuries, Harrison was able to come out of retirement and resign for the 2015-2016 season. Linebackers have always been the foundation of the Steelers defense since the 70’s. Last season, they only had 33 sacks which are the fewest in a quarter-century. “Steelers Nation” will have all eyes on him this year to live up to the hype!
Cortez Allen (cornerback) started eight games and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He signed a five-year contract worth $26 million at the start of the 2013-2014 season. Allen somehow lost his confidence and was being attacked more than the aging Taylor. He then got injured and sat out for the rest of the season as William Gay, Antwon Blake and C.B.Webb rotated in the position. Allen must take on the leadership role at corner with veteran Taylor retiring. Allen will be asked to shut down the top receivers from the other teams, which he has shown in the past that he can be that “top dollar” corner in the league. This season will be a test for Allen to live up to the $26 million contract.
The Steelers are coming off of a strong season with (Big) Ben Rothlisberger playing at the elite level, and, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown both coming off a spectacular season with fantasy football stats.The defense on the other hand was saved by the offense which is not normal for the 6x Super Bowl champs Pittsburgh Steelers.
Who’s ready for some football???