Preseason Week 3 has arrived, and the Titans will go the Heinz Field on Saturday to face a familiar foe in the Steelers. In 2017, Pittsburgh was responsible for a 40-17 beatdown of the Titans in Week 11. Marcus Mariota played the worst game of his career, throwing four interceptions while looking out of sync under the Thursday Night lights.
Beating the Steelers in a preseason game means absolutely nothing, but here’s what to keep in mind as Tennessee visits the Steel City once again.
Since 2014, the Steelers have had one of the league’s most explosive offenses, most notably “The Killer B’s” in Ben Roethisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Bell is perhaps the best back in the game, while Brown is perhaps the best receiver. On top of that, rookie James Washington looks like a stud, and the offensive line remains one of the absolute best. The only uncertainties come with the tight end position and the change in offensive coordinator (Randy Fitchner replacing Todd Haley).
Roethlisberger’s consistency took a dip in 2017. His downfield accuracy, a massive part of his game, worsened, and his decision making looked more erratic. He was also the center of a few controversies where he confronted the front office. Going onto age 36, I’m not sure how much he has left in him, which is why the Steelers drafted Mason Rudolph in the third round.
The front seven has plenty of pieces. T.J. Watt looks like a stud, Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward are one of the league’s best defensive end tandems, and Bud Dupree remains a quality linebacker. The secondary is a different story. You’re not in a good situation when Joe Haden is your best secondary player, and the signing of Morgan Burnett at safety doesn’t make things much better. Artie Burns remains terrible.
I feel like the Steelers had their best shot at one more Super Bowl with Roethlisberger last year. That came to an end once the Steelers lost to the Patriots in Week 15 on a controversial finale. With Le’Veon Bell pretty much guaranteed out after 2018, Antonio Brown getting up there in age, Roethlisberger’s time in the NFL waning, and the absence of linebacker Ryan Shazier, I don’t see this team getting to the Super Bowl in 2018, barring Tom Brady suddenly starts sucking.
Still, with a receiving corps including Brown, Washington, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, a stud offensive line, and (maybe) Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers have weapons on offense and a quarterback with enough chemistry to make some efficient drives happen. I just don’t know how good Pittsburgh will be this season with an unproven offensive coordinator, an aging quarterback, and a head coach in Mike Tomlin that seems unprepared against weaker opponents.