Three 1,000 yd seasons by a Steelers receiving corp? Dare we say that this Pittsburgh offense in 2012 has the capability of outdoing everyone in the league? Well, we can’t get ahead of ourselves quite yet, but If you look at the history of Ben Roethlisberger’s passing stats, along with the receiving numbers by Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders then it might not be such a tough thing to consider.
Over the last 3 seasons, Roethlisberger has thrown for an average of 3,868 yds and 21 Touchdowns, and that’s including 2010 when he was suspended for 4 games of the season (in that year he still had 3,200 passing yards). The darlings of the NFL every year are guys like Drew Brees, 5,476 yds and 37 TD’s in 2011 and Aaron Rodgers, 4,643 yds and 34 TD’s. Those are teams that focus primarily on the pass in a wide open offense that features at least 3 topg receivers and veteran Quarterbacks who have been there before.
So why not Big Ben and Young Money for some serious offensive firepower in 2012?
If this were Bruce Arians’ offense still, I’m not sure I’d even consider writing something like this. It’s not because these guys would any less talented but rather there’s a reason Mike Tomlin decided it was time to part ways with Arians. The offense simply wasn’t fulfilling it’s potential. Even with such good numbers last year, there were a lot of points left on the board and ultimately that’s what an effective offense is all about.
Last season the Steelers big 3 posted up some pretty nice numbers: MIke Wallace had 72 catches for 1,193 yds and 8 TD receptions. Antonio Brown hauled in 69 catches for 1,108 yds and 2 TD’s. Emmanuel Sanders fought through injuries throughout 2011 and finished with 22 catches for 288 yds and 2 TD’s.Heath Miller also accounted for 51 catches for 631 yds, the second best out put of his career.
Roethlisberger threw for 4,077 yds and 21 TD’s in 2011, and other than the Wide Receivers, the remaining yardage went to Tight Ends and Running Backs. If you watched the preseason and followed training camp, the new Todd Haley offense features not only the use of receivers but also short passes to many different targeted positions. So we can expect guys like Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Heath Miller, and Chris Rainey to get their share of passes but when you need a big play, it’s no longer just Wallace that Ben can look too.
All 3 primary targets have the speed to get deep and ability to make tough catches in traffic. Mike Wallace will still get the double teams more often than not, but Antonio Brown can’t be left one on one now either. It’s going to be a “pick your poison” scenario for the defense to decide who to roll coverage too. That in turn will open up the option of Emmanuel Sanders who, if he can stay healthy, can be the newest pass catcher to reach the 1,000 yd mark this season.
Having 3 receivers with 1,000 yds each is not a guarantee by any stretch, even with the talent on offense that Todd Haley has. Injuries can happen and the group might start out a bit on the inconsistent side until they get their sea legs in regular season action. It will be up to Wallace to beat the double team or beat his one on one coverage when teams put their best cover man on him on an island. The same goes for Brown as well, he’s going to be a hot topic in defensive team meetings as well, he’s no longer “the new guy on the block”. Let’s not forget the Steelers schedule isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. The Broncos, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys, along with a tough AFC North trio of teams, will give the Steelers all they can handle.
I still say though, based on how things look on paper this year and from what we’ve seen in the offseason and preseason, I like the Steelers chances on offense of being nothing short of spectacular. If they achieve that spectacular status, then the sky is the limit and the Stairway to 7 can become a reality.
Ok, feet planted firmly on the ground now SteelerNation, but dare to dream because dreams do come true.