I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately. What is the Steelers plan defensively going to be in 2018? They are dangerously thin at both linebacker spots, yet during the off-season they brought in a total of one linebacker to bolster this group. The team signed Colts cast off Jon Bostic, and well…. that’s it. I thought the goal of a 3-4 defense was to have four extraordinary linebackers. Does this team even have one? Maybe, if TJ Watt continues to develop, maybe. Despite this, Kevin Colbert and company decided to go on a safety shopping spree. They brought in a total of four new safeties, two free agents and two draft picks. Does that seem strange to anyone? On a team who could not stop the run to save their lives against Jacksonville, they do nothing to improve that area of the defense.
So here’s my theory on all this, and it might seem crazy. The team plans on letting their high powered offense be the defense. Basically they have decided to rely on getting big leads, and then rolling out “dime” and “dollar” packages. It’s the only rational explanation I can come to. The Steelers were a bit ham strung by the amount of cap space taken up by offensive players. It certainly effected their ability to sign an impact defensive free agent. Between Bell, Brown, and Roethlisberger the team has a whopping $45 million cap hit. So why not play to their strength, and hope this offense will finally reach it’s potential. This unit may be better than ever with a new deep threat in rookie James Washington. Add that to what we saw a healthy Vance McDonald can do for this offense, and they would appear be unstoppable. The elusive 30 points per game we were promised might actually be attainable now. If that’s the case, planning out a defense who will be playing with a lead most of the time may not be a bad idea. Who needs inside linebackers when you’re up by twenty and teams are forced to throw to get back in the game? Acquiring safeties like Terrell Edmunds and Morgan Burnett makes perfect sense in that scenario.
All in all it’s not a bad plan of attack. The concern of course is teams lining up in heavy packages, and running the ball right down the Steelers throats. That would keep all these new defensive backs on the sideline. Teams like the Patriots who can line up with two tight ends, and still kill you in the passing game are particularly worrisome. I for one have zero faith that Kieth Butler can come up with a viable solution for this problem. I guess that’s the point of all this right? Avoid depending on the defense as much as possible. Build leads, minimize the weaknesses on defense. Rely as little as possible on Butler and his game planning. The team would never admit it, but that is exactly what they intend to do. The Steelers have one last year to cash in on the “Killer B’s” before Le’Veon Bell departs. Why not go all in with this offense one last time? The way the NFL is heading, outscoring your opponent may be the only way to go.