It was pretty obvious to me that the Pittsburgh Steelers had some serious ‘come to Jesus’ meetings following their second straight 8-8 season. Offensively, those discussions centered around balance between the run and the pass but also must have included topics such as speed and red zone threats.
Defensively, the common theme was certainly youth but it was also about speed which explains the first pick Ryan Shazier.
Whether Dick LeBeau came to the realization himself or had help from Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and company is not known and never will be, but we should at least be happy the change is underway.
Think of how much more speed the Steelers’ defense will have on the field in 2014 than just a year ago. Gone is Ryan Clark who declined steadily before our eyes over the last two seasons. Also likely gone is Brett Keisel from the defensive line and Larry Foote is Arizona.
In their places will be Mike Mitchell in the secondary and possibly Stephon Tuitt on the line and Ryan Shazier at linebacker. While the experience factor is diminished greatly, we cannot argue with the increase in speed and athleticism that will potentially be on the field for the Steelers.
Offensively, the Steelers have added the draft’s fastest player in Dri Archer. His speed will be utilized on kick returns and possibly punt returns and certainly on offense. Todd Haley likes these types of players but his use of Chris Rainey was horrible at best. Archer can’t be seven yards deep in the backfield to be effective. He needs to be all over the place.
More added speed to the offense comes in the form of Martavis Bryant who has run the forty in as little as 4.4. Whether he gets on the field soon will depend on his ability to pick up the offense, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get opportunities especially in the red zone.
Make no mistake that the Steelers necessity for speed is a welcome one because it’s something this team has lacked in critical areas. Whether this speed gets on the field right away is yet to be determined but we can hope right?
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.