Category: NFL

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Justin Fields is a not-so-secret weapon

The 2024 Pittsburgh Steelers roster is starting to come together.

It is what it is, for better or worse. There has been plenty of speculation that Omar Khan is far from finished adding to the roster. After all, he just recently cleared a substantial amount of cap space for some reason. Why bother creating cap space if you have no intentions of using it? Only Khan can answer that question, but I highly doubt that Khan is done cooking.

For this article we will avoid speculation and hypothetical, and focus on what we know. Khan has accomplished his offseason goal of providing Arthur Smith with a much improved offensive line necessary to drive his power based scheme. Khan has also substantially improved the overall team speed on both sides of the ball.

Khan also totally revamped the QB depth chart. According to all reports, the drastic changes were definitely warranted. The Steelers lacked explosiveness, experience, and leadership at the most important position on the field in 2023. Now the Steelers have an abundance of all those qualities, at least at first glance.

Russell Wilson is the presumed starter. He has plenty of experience, with a Super Bowl championship on his impressive resume. His new teammates are already praising his football knowledge, presence, and leadership. Now all he needs to do is solidify the position with his performance on the field.

That’s all well and good, but Russell Wilson is no spring chicken. He is closer to the back nine than teeing off. Hopefully Wilson is the short-term answer at QB, but the Steelers would be wise to consider the long-term future at the position. Especially when you have Justin Fields already on the roster.

Fields is an elite athlete in every sense of the word. Fields has prototypical size and strength for the position. His 4.46 speed and explosiveness gives him elite mobility for the position. His arm strength is also on an elite level. Fields is more athletically gifted than any prospect drafted since he was a first round selection in 2021. Fields only recently turned 25 years old.

Fields had the misfortune of being drafted by the Chicago Bears. The Bears franchise is the NFL’s version of an elephant graveyard so to speak. Where talented QB prospects go to die. Fields tried his best to overcome the franchise’s notorious curse, but to no avail. He had plenty of spectacular moments, both with his throwing arm and his legs, but nothing that could be considered consistent or sustainable.

So why am I suggesting that the Steelers should focus substantial attention towards Fields development in 2024. There are multiple reasons; scheme, expectations, and culture. Ever since Fields entered the NFL as a first round selection, he was expected to be the QB savior that the Bears fanbase has been praying for. Never mind the Bears atrocious coaching situation, the supporting cast, or the franchise’s history at the position. As the first round pick, Fields was expected to perform some miracles. No such expectations in Pittsburgh.

With little to no expectations, Fields can finally exhale and focus his attention on becoming the best professional he can be. I honestly believe that Fields is an excellent fit for Arthur Smith’s scheme. During his last year in Chicago, the Bears asked him to focus on being more of a pocket passer. One year removed from one of the best rushing performances in NFL history for a QB. Fields actually had two 4 touchdown passing performances in 2023, but he appeared paralyzed by over analysis far too often. Trapped between patiently waiting in the pocket and taking off for another big run. The indecisiveness lead to numerous sacks and fumbles.

Arthur Smith’s power rushing attack will dictate to opposing defenses if effective. The Steelers should stay in favorable down and distances, where they have the full playbook at their disposal. Teams will have to commit extra defenders to limit the damage, which will make them particularly vulnerable to play action. This should allow the Steelers quarterbacks to flourish with less pressure and more open options.

Last year’s Steelers offense left much to be desired. They seemed allergic to the endzone at times. They needed more explosiveness and experience from the QB position. Now they have both. The Steelers also needed more weapons on offense. Fields could potentially become a huge weapon for the Steelers.

Experience is always the best teacher, and the Steelers need to get Fields on the field, even if he isn’t the starter to begin the season. Smith needs to implement specialized series into each week’s gameplan to keep Fields involved and growing. RPOs are a great way to get Fields involved and capitalize on his elite level abilities. Similar to how the Baltimore Ravens transitioned from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson. This would also help prepare Fields to take the reigns if Wilson proves to be ineffective or is lost to injury.

The Steelers success in 2024 will most likely come down to the performances of their quarterbacks. Last season the Steelers needed more offensive weapons. They acquired one this offseason in Justin Fields. In my opinion, he is too talented to keep standing on the sidelines.

Failing to adequately utilize Fields’ unique talents on the field will be a complete failure for the Steelers franchise. After all, everybody wants to see Fields do his best Slash impersonation.


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