Long time coach Bill Cowher retired, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt left for Arizona , and defensive leader Joey Porter was cut. Former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin will be under a microscope as he becomes only the 16th coach in the 74 year history of the Steelers, and just the third coach to hold the position since 1969. Last season, the Steelers had a rough time, considering that they are only two years removed from a Super Bowl Championship.
That being said, the Steelers have great talent on the team. Charlie Batch had a great year in 2006. In the season opener against Miami , Batch threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Even though Charlie Batch played well in relief as quarterback, the role belongs to Big Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger threw for 18 touch downs last season but he also tossed it to other teams for a total 23 times.
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That being said, Roethlisberger fully has the capability of getting back to his Super Bowl form and he will need to that for the Steelers to have a competitive 2007 season. But Roethlisberger has quite a bit to prove in 2007. Roethlisberger not afraid to throw deep when he breaks the pocket or to head for a touchdown run when he is near the goal line. A more confident Roethlisberger will make fewer mistakes, and if the Steelers play from behind less often and the quarterback won’t have his preseason or playing time interrupted by health issues.
Also relying on Roethlisberger is tight end Heath Miller. Miller’s production actually lowered from his rookie year and this was largely due to Roethlisberger below average play but Miller will have to make himself a target this year to help out his quarterback.
And the Steelers also have running back Willie Parker who had a great year last season. Even with Big Ben struggling at times and defenses keying in on Parker, he was still able to run right past them. Parker scored 16 touchdowns in 16 games and racked up over 1700 total yards from scrimmage.
In the wide receiver position there is Hines Ward who suffered from injuries last year and as a result, his production suffered. Ward suffered from knee and hamstring troubles last season, and saw his touchdown total fall from 11 in 2005 to only six last season. As back up, there is Santonio Holmes. Thankfully, Holmes seemed to find a cure to his plaguing ‘fumble-itis’ late last season and the team is counting on him to be their number two wide receiver.
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Jeff Reed missed seven field-goal attempts last season and saw his overall point total drop from 117 in 2005 to 101 in 2006. Reed should be another candidate for a bounce back season with the reinvigorated offense. The big key, though, will be stability on the offensive line.
The left side should be solid with tackle Marvel Smith and standout Alan Faneca holding things down. Faneca has stated that this will be his last year in Pittsburgh , and this season he should play very well. With the retirement of Jeff Hartings a hole is left to be filled at center, though, and the right side of the line is much less formidable. Against some teams like Baltimore and New England , the Steelers will suffer some breakdowns in protection.
Despite having good linebackers, good down linemen, and a decent secondary, the Steelers had a surprisingly inconsistent defense last season. The talent on this defensive team are more than capable of becoming a very solid defensive unit and Tomlin is a very good defensive coach.
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Now, the Steelers are in a very difficult division this coming season, but this could be a team that makes a big jump this year. Pittsburgh Steelers tickets are sure to go fast this season it is suggested that you buy your Steelers tickets from a ticket broker to get yourself some premium seats.