NFL: Are the Steelers strong enough to overcome injuries?

Ariel Reed, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






As the 2019 NFL season is approaching week seven, it is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been struggling to overcome the adversity being thrown at them. However, there is no need to fret Steelers fans: There is still hope. 

The main problem facing the Steelers is having a healthy roster. Early on, Ben Roethlisberger, the central part of the offense, suffered an elbow injury. This injury, sustained in the second game, has ruled him out for the rest of the season. 

Next up is the second-string quarterback, Mason Rudolph. He led the team to a 27-3 victory after Roethlisberger’s injury.

Rudolph did not show off his dynamic throwing range for this game, but he proved efficient with his short pass game to secure the Steelers’ first win on the season.

He sustained a concussion while playing against the Ravens on Oct. 6. Third-string quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges made his NFL debut that evening. 

Hodges was able to keep the Steelers in the game, but they succumbed to the power of the Raven’s kicker Justin Tucker, who kicked the game-winning field goal to ensure another loss for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers’ offense was stuck between a rock and a hard place going into week seven of the NFL regular season. “Big Ben” was out for the season, Rudolph was severely concussed and the fate of the Steelers’ offense fell into the hands of Hodges. 

Hodges took a similar route that Rudolph did in his first NFL start. He used several short, quick passes to lift the Steelers over the Rams. 

The question is, though, which back-up quarterback best suits their offensive line? Rudolph has a good arm, which makes wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster more of a weapon. Hodges, however, is smaller than Rudolph and is shiftier in the run game.

Besides the Steelers’ slew of quarterback problems, the Steelers also have had to juggle injuries surrounding some of their key offensive players: Smith-Schuster, James Conner and Sean Davis.  

Connor and Smith-Schuster’s injuries have not been bad enough to rule them out of games, but missing one of these instrumental players could throw their entire offense off balance. 

Davis sustained a torn labrum in the second game of the Steelers’ season. This injury has him out until at least week 11 due to the extensiveness of the recovery process. 

After Davis’ injury, the Steelers knew they needed to replace what he brought to the table on the defensive side.

With this in mind, the Steelers traded a 2020 first-round draft pick to the Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is talented enough to possibly keep his starting position even when Davis returns. 

The Steelers have struggled for the first six weeks in the NFL regular season. Their current record is 2-4, and they are ranked third in the AFC North. They should not be ruled out as playoff contenders, though. 

They have shown that they can battle and contend with tougher opponents (except against the Patriots in week one).

Under the Sunday night lights at Gillette Stadium, there was concern with whether or not Roethlisberger and his offense could survive after the loss of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. With the Patriots’ defense holding Rothlisberger and company to three points, it was evident that the offense was lackluster without their lost offensive pieces.

In the second week of the NFL season, the Steelers battled with the most tenacious NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers. 

On average the 49ers have beaten their opponents by 17 points, yet they only beat the Steelers by four. The defensive strength of the Steelers’ line is what kept them in close contention with their opponent.  

The Steelers have fallen to their tougher opponents by an average of three points if we discount their first blowout game against the Patriots. 

Their defense has remained steady through the chaos of the offensive lineup. 

The power of their defensive lineup is centered around Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave.  

Heyward is great at his work. He has developed into a better lineman throughout his career in football. When he first entered the league he “lived in the shadows,” but now he is a powerhouse at stopping the run.

Tuitt, on the other hand, has had a lot of worry surrounding whether he is an overrated or underrated player. However, his winning mentality can be demonstrated through the fact that he shows up and works diligently.

Tuitt is arguably the best run defender on the Steelers. His stat line for sacks is lackluster, but his ability to put pressure on the quarterback has been overlooked. 

Hargrave is rapidly materializing as a known defensive lineman on the team. Hargrave’s game is different from Tuitt’s, who uses his power and size to bewilder offensive linemen while Hargrave uses a quick burst and a set of hand moves to get to the quarterback. Hargrave also improved his overall grade from 69.1 to 86.2 in the second half of last season. He has proven to be an important cog in the Steeler game.  

Other noteworthy defensive players are Tyson Alualu, Daniel McCullers and Isaiah Buggs. These three have had the greatest impact on keeping the Steelers in playoff contention.

Although the start of the season has been unfortunate, they may be able to remain in playoff contention because of the AFC North’s status. The Bengals do not pose a threat while the Ravens and the Browns have shown their set of weaknesses.

The Steelers losing to the Ravens isn’t the end-all-be-all. They are past the hardest part of their schedule, so attaining the title of AFC North Champions is not impossible.

It is an uphill battle for Pittsburgh, but if they can right the ship and get things going, they can become a playoff team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ariel Reed

Staff Writer

Yes. 

Ben Mandell

Co-Sports Editor

No. 

Kirsten Peters

Co-Sports Editor

Yes.

Kevin Singhel

Asst. Sports Editor

No.

Maddie Davis

Managing Editor

No.

Parker Dorsey

News Editor

No.