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Do the Steelers have “The Big Four”?

There is a common formula winning teams have had for some time now, especially since the NFL has become an offensive league that caters to the quarterback. If you look at the most successful teams, they all seem to have very high level play at four key positions:

  • Quarterback
  • Left Tackle
  • Pass Rusher
  • Cornerback

I don’t think it is a coincidence that all of these positions directly impact the QB. The only thing that seems to overrule this formula is a Hall of Fame level quarterback giving you Hall of Fame level play. Of course there are always outliers that are successful; for example you may have a generational defense like the 2000 Ravens or the 2002 Buccaneers. In today’s NFL it is extremely difficult to win a Super Bowl, or have sustained success, relying mainly on a top defense.

Let’s take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers “Big Four”:

Cornerback: Joey Porter Jr.

  • Joey Porter Jr. was the Steelers 2nd round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Porter was brought along slowly but emerged as the Steelers CB1 during the season. Porter Jr. was a finalist for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the year and has made his name for himself as one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL. Since entering into the starting lineup JPJ was assigned to the opposing team’s WR1 which included receivers such as DeAndre Hopkins, Jamar Chase and DK Metcalf. Porter Jr looks like he will be the franchise CB1 the Steelers have not had since Ike Taylor.

Left Tackle: Broderick Jones

  • Broderick Jones was the Steelers 1st round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Jones was not the immediate starter at left tackle but did get a start due to an injury to Dan Moore Jr. Broderick Jones was inserted as the teams starting right tackle in week 10 against the Green Bay Packers, that week the Steelers rushed for 205 yards. During the final 9 regular season games with Jones in the starting line up, the Steelers averaged over 140 yards per game. The Steelers want Jones to move back to his natural position of left tackle where Broderick prefers “eventually”, hopefully that is to start the 2024 season. Jones could be the franchise left tackle we are missing.

Pass Rusher: T.J. Watt/Alex Highsmith

  • There is not enough that can be said about the duo of T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. In my opinion Watt and Highsmith is the best OLB tandem in the NFL. Coach Mike Tomlin pronounced T.J. as “the best defensive player on the planet”. T.J. Watt finished the season as the leader in almost every defensive statistical category important to his position and was a finalist for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, whether he should have won is another topic. (so nobody is confused, yes, he should have won). While Highsmith may not have lit up the stat sheet like Watt, he had a very impressive season. Highsmith had 2 INTs, 1 TD, 2 FF, and 7 Sacks. This combination of Watt and Highsmith is ELITE and in their prime.

Quarterback: Kenny Pickett??

  • The elephant in the room, quarterback. Can Kenny Pickett be the QB we need to get back to the Super Bowl? KP8 has been a winner as the starting quarterback for the Steelers with a record of 14-10 as a starter. BUT the questions remains, are the Steelers winning because of or in spite of Kenny Picket and can they make a deep playoff run with Pickett. In 25 games KP has thrown only 13 touchdowns. No matter how well Kenny takes care of the football, only throwing 13 interceptions, he needs to led an offense that scores more points. I will not put Kenny’s performance solely on him due to the horrific Matt Canada experiment but he needs to play better. Kenny has all the intangibles needed to be a successful NFL quarterback, but if he’s going to be “The Guy” he needs to produce. If KP8 is not the man for the job, the Steelers need to do whatever they can do put the team in position to be Super Bowl contenders again.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have high level talent at 3 of the 4 key positions, but are missing the most important position in all of football. With free agency and the NFL draft quickly approaching the Steelers can add talent across the entire roster, but what they do at quarterback may be the biggest decision of them all.

Continue to check out The Steel Curtain Network for all of your Pittsburgh Steelers news and updates.

Stay Blessed and Stay Positive… “Here We Go”


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