After watching an explosive offense featuring a dynamic passing attack and a stellar running game, Stephon Tuitt believes greatness lies within Pittsburgh's defense as well.
"We got nothing but high hopes," Tuitt said recently, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We see the future looking very bright. You see what we can do. I personally believe we can be the No. 1 defense in the run and the pass and we're going to do it."
Led by Tuitt, Cameron Heyward, Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree and others, the Steelers boasted a devastating front seven in 2015. Pittsburgh ranked fifth overall against the run, giving up just 91.2 yards per game on the ground, and finished with 48 sacks, third most in the NFL. It's notable that their top-two sack performers both played defensive end in a 3-4 defense -- Tuitt and Heyward -- not outside linebacker.
The trouble for Pittsburgh was in the secondary, where teams could pick on the likes of Antwon Blake and Will Allen. The Steelers gave up 271.9 yards per game through the air, ranking 30th in the NFL. Almost once a game, Pittsburgh suffered a breakdown in coverage, allowing a receiver to run wide open for a big play.
"We got a chance to put all the pieces together," Tuitt said. "Everybody got a chance to learn together, to learn how each other played. We got a chance to show what we really are like, where we left off, and I can't wait to pick up from there."
Then he added, "I want people to be afraid to play us."
While the Steelers front seven certainly will strike some fear into offensive lines, barring a major overhaul it will take more than one offseason to upgrade all the gaps in the secondary.