This week, Coltsider got to chat with the Steelers blog, Steelers Today. Thanks to them for agreeing to talk with us as we look forward to Sunday’s matchup!
1. How has the offensive line looked so far? I know it was questionable at times last year.
In the first game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens, it looked like the Steelers were playing without an offensive line. Guys were getting to Ben Roethlisberger all day long. I think Terrell Suggs sacked Ben 56 times all by himself (Okay, maybe not that many. But it was a lot).
The offensive line has been an issue for the Steelers for years. Yet they got to the Super Bowl last year with a weak offensive line. Moreover, they won Super Bowl XLIII with a very suspect O-line. So the offensive line is a problem that can be overcome.
2. Do you think Rashard Mendenhall will last all season? Most lead backs on a Super Bowl team struggle with durability issues the next year. Can Mendenhall carry that load again?
Definitely. Rashard has a very powerful build. He can take a pounding. More importantly, the Steelers seem to be using their backup running back, Isaac Redman, more often than they did last year.
3. We’re all wondering: What happened to the Steelers during week one? Will those issues cause problems during the rest of the year?
What happened to them? They got their ___ kicked, that’s what happened. The Steelers have had a great deal of success against the Baltimore Ravens in recent years, and it may have gone to their heads. They came out too cocky, and Baltimore punched them in the mouth.
Baltimore is a very good team. You can’t take any team for granted in the NFL. But in particular, you can’t take a good team for granted. That’s a sure way to lose a game.
Baltimore beat the Steelers in all phases of the game. But ultimately, I think that loss is going to help to focus the Steelers. They came into the season knowing that they had been in the Super Bowl last year. Moreover, they talked trash about the Ravens all during the off-season. They were cocky. As odd as it may sound, sometimes losing is exactly what a team needs.
4. What rookies are going to have the biggest impact on this game?
The Steelers have the luxury of having a veteran team. Rookies rarely make an impact with the Steelers. However, injuries have forced one rookie into the starting line-up. Rookie tackle Marcus Gilbert will be starting at right tackle due to an injury to starter Willie Colon.
Gilbert was drafted to be the Steelers’ left tackle of the future. But it looks like the future is now, and Gilbert is going to have to prove himself at right tackle.
5. Will the injury to Brett Keisel have a noticeable effect on the defense? Who needs to (or will) step up in his absence?
Keisel’s injury should have almost no effect. That says a lot about the Steelers’ defense when they can lose a Pro Bowl caliber defensive end, and not miss a step. But fortunately, the Steelers had to play without their other defensive end, Aaron Smith, last year. Ziggy Hood started in Smith’s absence, and the defense had a better statistical year than they did with Smith in the line-up. That experience is going to pay dividends this year. Ziggy is a proven player, and he can step into the starting line-up with confidence.
Chris Hoke, Steve McClendon, and rookie Cameron Heyward will also likely get some action at right defensive end in Keisel’s absence.
6. What will the final score be?
With Peyton Manning out of the line-up, I’m tempted to say that the Steelers are going to pitch a shutout against the Colts. However, I’ll be a little more conservative than that and predict a Steelers victory by a score of 24-7.
Again, thanks to the good folks from Steelers Today for talking with us. You can view my answers to questions regarding the Colts here.