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Sports

NFL: Three Keys to the Pittsburgh Steelers Returning to the Playoffs in 2020

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NFL: Three Keys to the Pittsburgh Steelers Returning to the Playoffs in 2020

2020-09-14 19:01:58

 

-by Bo Marchionte, Contributing Writer; Image: Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt. (Image Source: Frank Hyatt)​

Pittsburgh opens their 2020 season at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants, whom few have much confidence in winning many games this season. This is the conundrum for the Steelers.

Beat dominate NFL teams while playing down to the level of those they should handle rather easily. Saturday I was at Heinz Field covering the Pitt Panthers as they dismantled the Austin Peay Governors. Usually, the Panthers struggle against teams they should beat. Think Youngstown State or Delaware season openers for example.

It got me thinking to a few things I would like to see for the Steelers this season, as they embark into the unknown of COVID-19 and NFL football. So many things factor into a team's overall success but these three things should provide some needed relief to a franchised poised to return to the playoffs.

Beat Lousy Teams Convincedly

Considering the skeleton crew on offense last season there are absolutely zero issues with the way they finished with an 8-8 overall record. Fabulous taking into consideration the obstacles on offense.

In 2018, one that stands out is the debacle in Oakland against the 2-10 Raiders until they won their third game of the year against Pittsburgh. The Steelers were 7-4-1 at the time and a late-season three-game slide eliminated from the playoffs.

Pittsburgh follows that up against a win against the arch-nemesis in the New England Patriots and were robbed one week later in New Orleans with an atrocious pass interference call.

Does the 2017 loss in Chicago come to mind?

Stephon Tuitt Healthy

The idea of a healthy Stephon Tuitt is music to my ears. He began the season in terrific fashion posting 3.5 sacks and 22 combined tackles in just six games. His career averages are 3.9 sacks and 33.5 tackles for a full season.

Tuitt’s rookie season is the only year he was available for all 16 games and started four that year back in 2014. Pittsburgh defense is laced with some of the finest defenders in the National Football League and Tuitt could be the icing on the cake.

Imagine the access to quarterbacks for T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree if Cam Heyward and Tuitt were pulling offensive lineman from their intended paths for a sack.

Ben Roethlisberger Fast Start

Ben Roethlisberger remains the vital conduit for Pittsburgh to keep that hope alive. Tonight at MetLife stadium we will see him up against the defense that allowed the seventh-most passing touchdowns (30) along with their opponents' quarterbacks completing 66.4% of their completions with a passer rating average of 101.4 (only five teams allowed over 100 passer rating).

Hopefully, the offense is in sync and Roethlisberger finds an early rhythm with plenty of new faces he hasn’t thrown to much in regular-season action.

Think about it?

Ben played six quarters last year. In the season opener, 10 of his throws went to Donte Moncrief who dropped seven of his 10 targets. Diontae Johnson was in the infant stages of his rookie season when Roethlisberger went in IR.

Johnson, rookie receiver Chase Claypool and tight end Eric Ebron are all new faces to get acquainted with Monday night at MetLife Stadium.

 

 

 

 

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