And really, this should be a special season. Antonio Brown is still Antonio Brown. Bell will remain a star if healthy, and Roethlisberger should still be one of the handful of best quarterbacks anywhere. Home run-hitting receiver Martavis Bryant is conditionally un-suspended after missing last year, and a top-three offensive line is fully intact.
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The defense got better last season and played well in the playoffs until it came up against Tom Brady. It’s a good enough unit to win a Super Bowl but probably only if it’s attached to a devastating offense. That’s what the Steelers have in this moment.
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Bell is a singularly dominant running back and Roethlisberger a Hall of Fame quarterback. The Steelers will fall off considerably without either of them, and this is the last year both are guaranteed to play together. If it’s their swan song in the same backfield, the Steelers can only hope they’ll make beautiful music.
Teez Tabor displayed first-round talent at Florida, but poor performances in the lead-up to the draft led him to the Lions in the second round. He and 2017 signee D.J. Hayden are high-ceiling players who will have several questions to answer with their new team. Hayden, the 12th overall pick of the 2013 draft, failed to live up to expectations with the Raiders but could be aided by a change of scenery.
The team also still has defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who interviewed for the Chargers head coach job last spring — his ninth interview in the last three years. Austin wasn’t able to mold last year’s unit into even an above-average squad, but his spectacular 2014 continues to give the team hope.