2008 Offense has potential to be special
Now that the draft is over we can take our first look at the potential this year Steelers offense might have. Big Ben got his wish for a tall WR when the team drafted Texas standout Limas Sweed in the 2nd round. His stock was falling a little bit with some scouts but I’m not sure even Tomlin himself could have predicted that he’d fall into the Steelers laps without having to even think about trading up to get him. Sweed joins Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, and Nate Washington as the top 4 pass catchers on the roster. Ben must be salivating at the chance to get all 4 of these players on the field at the same time. When was the last time you could say a crop of Steelers receivers were all fast, tall, or both? Sweed will benefit from the tutoring of Ward greatly; who better to learn from than one of the best in the business. This group of receivers that Ben has at his disposal has the potential to be special indeed. If they all stay healthy the matchup problems they will create for any defensive coordinator will be mind blowing. Then you add in Heath Miller who is money every time the ball comes near him; and Matt Spaeth the 6’7” giant who is basically the equivalent of the Statue of Liberty in the corner of the end zone and you’ve got the potential for a passing attack that could be the best the Steelers organization has ever seen.
Are we jumping the gun, well maybe but when you look at this group of receivers it’s easy to see the potential they all have but let’s focus on the running game for a minute. Pro Bowler Willie Parker was leading the NFL in rushing until that fateful game in St. Louis. We all cringed when we saw that leg get caught up in the turf and knew it wasn’t good watching him get carted off the field. Najeh Davenport is a more than serviceable 3rd down back and provides some good veteran leadership in a very young backfield. The amount of NFL game experience behind Davenport is few and far between to say the least. Fullback Carey Davis should good hands out of the backfield and seems to have the potential to be ready to carry the load full time at that position. 2nd year prospect Gary Russell saw very limited action in 2007 and will have to fight for his roster spot this year in a stable that now includes 1st round draft choice Rashard Mendenhall. The rookie from Illinois is being counted on the provide much needed support for Parker who carried the load last year who had 321 carries last year and 337 in 2006. That’s a quick way to wear out your star running back and Tomlin knows the team needs have another option opposite who can carry the load and keep both backs fresh in December when the stretch run to the playoffs is in full bloom. The 255 carries that Parker had in 2005 is a more realistic number for a starting running back. If he and Mendenhall can be counted on to be the 1-2 punch that fans dream about it will only make this already potent offense that much more diverse.
Heath Miller is the safety valve for Ben; and there’s none more reliable than the big man from Virginia. Miller is as close to a sure thing as you can get in this league when he’s headed down the middle of the field. He can run with any Linebacker in the league and normally requires at least 2 players to bring him down. Second year man Matt Spaeth is as a big of a target as you’ll find in the league today. His 6’7” frame basically allows Ben to just toss up a jump ball in the corner of the end zone and dare any Safety or Cornerback in the league to try and go up and take it away from Matt. If he can continue to improve this year, it will add yet another option for Ben to pull out of his arsenal whenever he and Coordinator Bruce Arians see fit.
I don’t know about all of you, and I know this only May and the team is just getting underway with minicamps, but how can you not be excited for the potential this offense has.