The Shazier effect
This isn’t the Steel curtain.
Pittsburgh hasn’t been the same team since losing Ryan Shazier during Week 13 of the 2017 season, and the team hasn’t done much to fill the big shoes left by the Ohio State great.
Pittsburgh allowed 37.5 more rushing yards per game and one whole yard per contest after losing Shazier, and GM Kevin Colbert didn’t do much to upgrade the position through the draft or free agency.
The Jaguars stuck a fork in Pittsburgh during the AFC Divisional playoff round, hanging up 45 on the Steelers as Blake Bortles posted a 94.1 passer rating as Jacksonville eliminated the black and yellow from the playoffs.
The Steelers stood pat on draft day, refusing to trade up from the 28th spot as linebackers flew off the board. When they did pick, Colbert selected Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds.
Edmunds had some forgettable moments in the preseason, especially when he got burned twice against the Packers. He’s listed as a backup on the Steelers’ depth chart.
Haden, 29, has a lot of miles on those legs. The Browns cut him before the start of last season, which was ridiculous because Haden was still serviceable.
But now entering a new year, the Browns’ brood of young playmakers are going to have their chance to prove themselves against a former Pro Bowler.
The Steelers strength is up front because they be successful rushing the quarterback with four players, including defensive end Cam Heyward.
T.J. Watt had a decent rookie season (78.5 PFF grade), but the Steelers are trying to get something out of 2015 first-round pick, Bud Dupree (49.1 PFF grade). He’s been moved from the left outside linebacker to the right side with the hope of turning on his pass rushing switch.
Browns’ OC Todd Haley might want to attack a player who really needs to start proving himself.
It’s a unit not at its best, but at the same time, the defense is far from perfect. The Browns will need their veteran quarterback to utilize his weapons, and it’s not that far-fetched.