It is happening, finally. Week 1 is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers fans are raring to go. More importantly, however, the Steelers players and coaches are more than ready to go as well. After everything that happened to this team last year, they are ready to shake it off and move forward. Let’s look at what highlights we should keep an eye on.
Week 1 – A Time to Shine in Prime Time
There are some teams that love the spotlight more than others. Some simply can’t focus when they know the entire country of football fans are watching. The Steelers are not such a team. They bring the shine to prime time, the Steelers Nation of fans is one of the best traveling ones in the NFL so the players never feel they are not at home. To this end, they are always pumped to perform and bring nothing but highlights to the game.
Of course, this year will be a different feel in the stadium, as they are playing the New York Giants at the Met Life Stadium in New York. It is one of the states that for the moment is not allowing fans to be in attendance. This has disappointed many in the Steelers Nation, including this writer who had fifth-row seats in the end zone to cheer her team on. (Not that she is salty about it at all.) This will be a good test to see how much of their positive attitude can stay with them, knowing their fans are screaming in front of their televisions, instead of in person.
Our General is Back
If you have been listening to any news reports involving training camp, you already know this. It would have been hard to miss all the reports about the return of Ben Roethlisberger. Last year was very difficult to recover from losing him in the second week of the season. Even with the lack of experience with both Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, they were still able to end the season at 8-8. That is very respectable considering all the things that happened. Now, of course, all eyes are going to be on Roethlisberger to see if he can lead the team to a much better record.
After having three tendons repaired in his throwing elbow, more than one person in attendance has said he is throwing as he did ten years ago. Take an arm with that strength and feeling, and add to it all of the experience Roethlisberger now has, and he is truly a force to be reckoned with. More than that, he has something to prove. To his fans, to his critics and most importantly to himself. The time he has put in has made him savvy and experienced. However it also makes him one of the oldest active quarterbacks in the NFL. He knows every year counts, and he has made it clear, he wants more trophies before he retires.
Strength on the Sidelines
Another thing to watch in week 1 will be head coach Mike Tomlin. Love him or hate him, he is one of the most underrated coaches in the game. As mentioned, last year ending with a record of 8-8 with all the hurdles they had to overcome was in no way achieved without Tomlin’s leadership. In fact, his 13 years as head coach he has never had a losing season.
Tomlin is what the team and city of Pittsburgh need. Tough when he has to be, compassionate when called for, all while knowing how to drive his team forward. There are few people who can successfully lead an NFL team and even fewer who can do so in Pittsburgh. Tomlin is a perfect fit and with all the weapons at his disposal this year, it is now full steam ahead.
Defense of Steel
The Steelers have been known for many years as a dominant defense. This was especially true in the seventies, when the Steel Curtain dominated the league. While it may be impossible to recreate the glory of years past, the current defense has a shot at being one of the best. One
of the high profile pickups in the offseason was Derek Watt. Joining his brother TJ Watt on a defense becoming more and more known for “in your face” type plays. With the defense keeping Giants quarterback Daniel Jones on his toes, and the offensive line protecting Roethlisberger, all the pieces are on the board for a week one win.
Monday night football is one of the favorite games for the Steelers to play. The fact that week 1 gets to showcase their play is a blessing and a lot of pressure. Fortunately, they seem to thrive under pressure and scrutiny.
The Giants are not to be taken lightly, especially with their young quarterback who shows a lot of promise, but focus the and drive of the Steelers should bring a week one win.
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