Winning a Super Bowl is one of the hardest things to do in professional sports. It’s a one and done proposition in the NFL, unlike the series formats of other professional league postseasons. Superior talent looks great on paper, but winning a Super Bowl takes more than that. Teams lacking focus, fundamentals or communication skills, like the Pittsburgh Steelers have the last few years, are destined to fall short. The Steelers have the talent necessary to win their seventh title but need several players to step up first. These Steelers players must take their games to the next level if they want to add another Lombardi trophy to the collection.
These Pittsburgh Steelers Players Must Step Up in 2018
The Steelers have been searching for their seventh Super Bowl title since the 2009 season. They fell a few plays shy in Super Bowl XLV, and have been chasing it ever since. They reached the AFC Championship in 2016 on the strength of a high powered offense and an improving young defense. The Steelers took a step back last season but look to rebound in 2018. Offensively, they have moved on from Todd Haley, promoting Randy Fichtner to offensive coordinator. Defensively the Steelers have hired a few new coaches. Tom Bradley replaces Carnell Lake as the defensive backs coach. Karl Dunbar will now coach the defensive line.
The Steelers hope that Bradley and Dunbar can relate to their young defensive talent and get the most out of them. They believe that the relationship between Ben Roethlisberger and Fichtner will give the Steelers more continuity on offense. The trust they share should provide better results on third down and in the red zone as well. With the revamped coaching staff in place, Bradley, Dunbar, and Fichtner need to get the most out of their respective units. Bud Dupree, Sean Davis, and Artie Burns are the specific Steelers players on defense who need to step up this season. Offensively, James Conner needs to reward the Steelers faith in him. Talent is not a question with these Steelers players, but rather getting their talent to finally match their potential.
Keith Butler Must Scheme to Bud Dupree‘s Strengths
Dupree has tremendous talent and potential that has gone unfulfilled to this point. The former first-round pick has the size, explosiveness, and power to be a dominant pass rusher, but hasn’t been able to put it all together yet. Injuries killed his momentum early on in his career, and coach Joey Porter hasn’t done him any favors either. Regardless, Dupree needs to harness his potential and maintain control when rushing the quarterback. He’s run himself out of too many sacks by taking too wide an angle. Dupree needs to take more advantage of his strength and speed by developing a few more moves to his arsenal. Keith Butler‘s decision to switch him and J.T. Watt will provide the results the Steelers have been looking for.
Communication Issues Holding Back Development of Young Defensive Backs
Davis and Burns didn’t show any signs of regression in their first full year as starters, but they didn’t progress either. They both made their share of plays, but they were often overshadowed by the chunk plays they gave up over the second half of the season. Talent and athletic ability were definitely not the issues with these two. They were mostly victims of communication issues within the defense. Kevin Colbert brought in two players known for their communications skills to deal with these issues. Jonathan Bostic and Morgan Burnett are definitely an upgrade in talent. Their ability to make the correct calls and put teammates in proper positions could ultimately be the catalyst for Burns and Davis taking a needed leap development.
Health Is the Key to Conner Having Success
Conner’s life has been a whirlwind for the last two years. He spent that time working out non-stop recovering from cancer, then preparing for the NFL Draft. Conner had the number one selling jersey, was an inspiration to millions, and an instant sentimental favorite. Connor did some good things during his rookie season but missed quite a bit of time with various injuries. He finally got some down time this off-season, after two years of continuous workouts. Connor’s body should benefit greatly from finally getting some much-needed rest this past off-season, and should come back stronger in 2018. Connor has the ability to become a reliable and consistent contributor on offense. With Le’Veon Bell‘s future in Pittsburgh uncertain, Connor has a chance to improve his status, but he has to stay healthy.
Last Word on Steelers Players Who Need to Step Up in 2018
The Steelers are top heavy in talent and have one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. They need some of that talent to take the next step if they want to win a seventh Super Bowl title. The Steelers have made necessary changes in the coaching staff. They brought in two players to help fix the communication issues on defense. The final pieces to the Steelers Super Bowl puzzle could very well be the development of Dupree, Burns, Davis, and Conner. It’s time all three take their difference-making talent to the next level.