PFT 2019 storyline No. 4: How will the Steelers perform without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell?

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The Steelers didn’t make it to a single Super Bowl with Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell both on the roster. Now, they’ll try to get there with neither of them.

The offseason has spent much of the last year reeling from dysfunction, starting with Bell’s holdout and continuing with Brown tweeting his way out of town. The end result, however, seems to be that the remaining players have pulled closer together, united in their desire to prove wrong anyone and everyone who has doubted the organization.

The doubts have at times been justified. Undeniably talented, the Steelers haven’t been able to get the most out of the ability of the players. Whether that speaks to a lack of leadership or flaws in coaching, the Steelers have become regarded as a band of underachievers.

Even without Brown and Bell, the Steelers still have plenty of talent, starting with a quarterback who is chronically underrated simply because he’s not beloved (or, frankly, liked) by fans and the media. It doesn’t help that multiple former teammates remain willing to call him out, something that only happens to Aaron Rodgers and not to any other franchise quarterback.

But Ben Roethlisberger, like the rest of the team, can use this year to internalize that criticism and to use it as motivation, for every practice, every game, every single thing that needs to be done between now and late December in an effort to get to the playoffs — and then to win when they get there.

Throw in the premature praise for a Browns team that still hasn’t gotten to the right side of .500 since 2007, and the Steelers may have captured that elusive quality that can be a difference maker for any NFL team, and especially for the good ones: Real, authentic, organic desire to come together and achieve something special. Something memorable. Something that results in beating the Patriots to Lombardi Trophy No. 7.

35 responses to “PFT 2019 storyline No. 4: How will the Steelers perform without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell?

  1. There is no reason to believe the Steelers can be good enough to get to the Super Bowl. They will play better as a team, but they are definitely way less talented without AB.

  2. Sick of hearing this question. Brown is the only one that will be replaced and the steelers have more depth at WR this year. Conner was a pro bowler last year in case you forgot

  3. Each and every time a troublemaker leaves, you’re better off.

    MUCH better off.

  4. Bad coach, distraction of a QB. Consigned to the second tier of the AFC as long as NE and KC are around.

  5. They’ll unravel starting about week 6. And then the finger pointing will begin.

  6. Hopefully the Stillers can learn from the Eagles Superbowl team. Team chemistry is more important then talent in some cases. Conner and JuJu responded with pro bowl nods and are better team players. I think they are better with depth and chemistry now..good luck guys!

  7. We already know they won’t miss Bell.

    The loss of Brown could sting short term but it remains to be seen how much. In the long run they’ll be fine. It’s tough to eat $21 million in dead cap space but eventually they’ll be able to use that cap space for multiple players.

  8. It’s hard to win with me me me players. The Browns are about to find out also. Steelers will be much better off without the two of them.

  9. They’ll struggle around .500. Roethlisberger will find new teammates to publicly blame.

  10. 6ringsandarapist says:
    July 22, 2019 at 5:22 pm
    Now it’s Tomlin’s time go

    Another know nothing bigot taking a shot at Tomlin. Have you looked at his record or is your post your first thought as usual.

    Teams that are united and feel overlooked can SOMETIMES use that as motivation, but I don’t make predictions so my hope is they stay together and stay focused for EVERY game and they will be fine.

  11. If the nfl rips 4-5 wins from other teams…

    (Like Week 1… when Cleveland was robbed of their win)

    … expect about a 9-10 win season.

  12. If Ben spent half as much time during the off season honing his craft as he did pounding brats and lagers he would have at least two more super bowl rings. One thing is for sure he will have a career in professional eating when he hangs up the cleats.

  13. James Connor benefited from teams selling out to stop the Steelers air game. He is no Le’Veon Bell. Slow down. They will fail to make the playoffs two years in a row.

  14. Talent drain is talent drain. Now Juju has to be the #1. Better chemistry? BB and Tomlin are still there. 9 win ceiling. Fortunately that may be enough to win the division, but not to contend.

  15. The Steelers didn’t make it to a single Super Bowl with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell both on the roster.

    That’s more of a reflection of the coach than it is the talent on the team. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers finish below .500. Maybe then the front office will realize a change needs to be made.

  16. The fact of the matter is that they will in deed end up missing all that talent, like it or not.

    Tomlin will finally be gone after this year and it’s about time.

  17. Steelers are gonna be fine on offense. Its the other side of the ball with questions. The team approach usually works. Their ace in the hole is all eyes are gonna be lookin at Cleveland. Not them.

  18. Really don’t agree with the author’s statement that the Steelers are regarded as a “band of underachievers.” Using that logic, every team that has been unable to get past the Patriots is an underachiever. The fact is, the Patriots have been better than every other team. The Steelers are no exception; and are just more visible because they are one of the few teams that can actually challenge the Patriots. Tomlin has one of the best coaching records in the NFL (win percentage near 65%). That is a fact. To blame him for the failures of the team is pure conjecture. The numbers say otherwise. The Steelers have a lot of talent, and replaced Bell with Conner (nearly identical production at lower cost). Even AB is replaceable I believe; as the Steelers always seem to have somebody step up when one of their starters move on. I really like this group now, and believe that addition through subtraction will apply here. Time will tell.

  19. Coach Tomlin deserves some credit for coaching this team to a 9-6-1 record last year, with all of the distractions. Most teams would have imploded with so many player issues. I am rather amazed that the Steelers were able to remain so competitive. IMO the Steelers have not been able to get over the hump because of well documented personnel weaknesses; specifically in their linebacker corps and in their secondary. The lost of Shazier did not help. Having little room in the salary cap has not helped, either. I believe that they have been making progress in the draft, and the drafting of LB “Devin Bush” should help significantly. I really like the way this team is shaping up. This team has been addressing their weaknesses, and is starting to look strong across the board.

  20. hotbred says:

    July 22, 2019 at 6:21 pm
    James Connor benefited from teams selling out to stop the Steelers air game. He is no Le’Veon Bell. Slow down. They will fail to make the playoffs two years in a row.

    Actually, the Steelers became significantly better in the “Red Zone” after Conner replaced Bell. The Steelers went from 18th in Red Zone efficiency under Bell to 1st with Conner last year. How about that!

  21. This argument makes about as much sense as saying that without oxygen, people breath easier. Steelers’ fans have more cases of sour grapes than any fans in the league. No wonder they are so unruly and obnoxious.

  22. Has the thought ever occurred to you that the Steelers are as talented
    in large part because Tomlin plays an integral role in the drafting
    and development of his players ?

    Tomlin got the best out of Antonio and kept him in line for 9 yrs.
    He did the same with Le’Veon for 5. It is highly unlikely either player
    will reach those heights again. Give Tomlin the credit he has earned
    over his tenure. It bears repeating, in a down year full of disappointments
    and distractions, the Steelers were 9- 6-1 and one blown call
    by the Refs away from the playoffs.

  23. edrooneyjr says:
    July 22, 2019 at 5:32 pm
    6-8 wins at best. Tomlin’s shortcomings will finally be apparent to everyone this year.
    Funny post, from someone who obviously does no research. Let’s get some facts into this discussion.
    1. Tomlin is entering his 13th year as the Steelers head coach. That is plenty of time, to analyze his “shortcomings.” Nothing is going to become “apparent.”
    2. Tomlin has a .655 career winning percentage (over 12 years)….second only to Bill Belichick at(.682 %)
    3. Tomlin has (2) Conference Titles and (1) Super bowl Victory….narrowly lost a second Super bowl to the Packers.
    4. Tomlin is 8-7 in the playoffs
    Summary: There is a lot of conjecture out there. The facts speak for themselves. Draw your own conclusion. It’s “apparent.”

  24. Still have doubts about Tomlin, but I’m encouraged by the reports of the team coming together and Tomlin reasserting his control. Conner has already proven he can replace Bell, replacing Brown’s production is a question mark, but we also can’t be sure how many of Ben’s interceptions were caused by forcing the ball to a whiny Brown… it is definitely possible that spreading the ball around to a less egocentric band of WR’s will make for a more balanced and productive offense. Either way I’m glad the selfish players are gone… hard to root for jerks like that.

  25. Depends on their special teams play.

    Last season Boswell went from PRO BOWL kicker to dead last in the NFL, missing 7 field goals and 6 extra points.

    Special Teams Units (kick and return) were brutal in penalties all season, leading the league with 1.6875 penalties per game.

    Bell and Brown had nothing to do with that, and it cost the Steelers a playoff spot. They don’t fix that, they won’t make it this year either, and Bell and Brown will have nothing to do with that either.

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