Steelers close first half of season at 6-2, with on-and-off Ben and smothering defense (Mike Pelaia’s Column Nov. 2017)


Halfway through the 2017 quest for Lombardi number seven, the Steelers find themselves with a 6-2 record and a bye week on the horizon.
I fully expected the Steelers to be boasting a 6-2 record after eight games but the manner in which they’ve achieved that record isn’t how I thought it would go.
Offensively, the team has struggled, in particular; Ben Roethlisbeger hasn’t been as sharp as expected. He’s thrown nine picks, albeit five of those were against Jacksonville. He hasn’t seemed like himself. He’s not as elusive, not as accurate and not as hard for defenders to read. That said, I think he’ll bounce back and have a strong second half.
Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have been exactly who I thought they would be, however Bell took longer to get there than I expected. The running game hasn’t been without its surprises for me, though. I fully expected James Conner to be a far more integral part of the rushing attack than he has been. He only has 18 total carries through the first eight weeks. I expected him to have around 50 carries for about 200 yards by now.
Martavis Bryant has also been a surprise for me. I thought he’d be a huge part of this offense, down the field (some of that may be on Ben) and in the red zone. He really hasn’t produced much of anything, other than drama specific to social media shots at fellow receiver and rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster has been a pleasant surprise for sure. He has clearly ascended to the number two option and will in all likelihood hold that spot the remainder of the season and beyond. Bryant has talked (and typed) his way out of favor and most likely out of town beyond 2017.


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