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30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers will have a Top 10 rush defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2024 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at Saint Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at SCN prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario…

Scenario: The Steelers will have a Top 10 rush defense

Why it will happen: The Pittsburgh Steelers are a defense which suffered some serious injuries throughout the 2023 campaign, and those injuries certainly plagued their run defense. Last year the Steelers finished 19th in terms of yards surrendered a game with 115.1. When you consider they didn’t have a healthy Cam Heyward the entire season, they lost Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander in just weeks of one another, and had to rely on Myles Jack and Mykal Walker to help fill the void at insider linebacker. When I look at it in this context, if the players the Steelers have on the roster heading into 2024 remain healthy, I don’t know how they don’t become a Top 10 run defense this season.

What would it take for the team to be considered a Top 10 run defense? Well, let’s look at last year as a guide. Last year the 10th run defense in the NFL averaged 103.4 surrendered on the ground. Not too far from the Steelers 115.1.

The main reason why I think this could happen isn’t just the hope and prayer the Steelers stay healthy, but the improvements they’ll have on the field. Yes, a healthy Cam Heyward helps, but so does Patrick Queen, 2nd year Keeanu Benton, and a budding player in rookie Payton Wilson. Say what you want about a rookie and second year player being contributors, they are clear upgrades of the way the Steelers finished last season at the ILB position. All of that doesn’t even involve Cole Holcomb, who could return to the team and round out a tremendous depth chart at the position.

Why it won’t happen: There is a lot of hope in the aforementioned players to be able to step up in their roles in 2024. Will Heyward, at his advancing age, remain healthy? Will Cole Holcomb even be healthy enough to play in 2024? While I want to say I stand firmly in believing in the Steelers run defense improving to the point they are a Top 10 team, I’ve seen this movie play out before, and it never works out in the Steelers’ favor.

We all have horrible memories of Jon Bostic and a shell of his former self Sean Spence roaming the middle of the field as the team tried to use duct tape and Elmer’s glue to keep things together. Injuries can decimate even the best laid plans, and while it might be the only way the Steelers struggle to stop the run, we’ve been through this before.

Prediction: With the moves made in the interior of the defensive line, I am confident the Steelers will be a Top 10 rushing defense in 2024. Will they be Top 5? I’m not sure I’ll go that far, but I feel good about seeing this scenario come to fruition this upcoming season.

Miss a scenario? You can see the full list of scenarios below, and be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for training camp.

Day 8: The Steelers Will Rush For More Than 2500 Yards In 2024

Day 7: T.J. Watt Will Break The Single-Season Sack Record

Day 6: George Pickens Will Have Double-Digit Receiving TDs

Day 5: Russell Wilson Will Start All 17 Steelers Games In 2024

Day 4: The Steelers Defense Will Have More Takeaways This Season

Day 3: The Steelers Will Top Their 2023 Sack Total

Day 2: The Steelers Offense Will Have More Turnovers This Season

Day 1: The Steelers Will Go Above And Beyond Their Win-Loss Prediction In 2024


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