A half to remember
The revitalized Pittsburgh Steelers are now 6 - 2 at the halfway point, and coming off of their bye week. From the time Mike Tomlin took over head coaching duties in 2007, from 2007 – ’11, the Steelers had recorded a 6 – 2 half – point mark in each of those five years, only missing the playoffs once (2009) and good enough to appear in two Super Bowls(2008, 2010) winning one (2008).
Following the 2011 season, the Steelers have been nothing short of average, finishing at the halfway mark at 5 – 3 twice, 4 – 4 twice and 3 – 5 back in 2013 when the Steelers dropped their first four games but managed to finished the season right at the .500 mark.
Fast forward to 2017, and here the Steelers are at 6 – 2 and poised for a historic season as the drama filled offensive unit continues to find their groove, the defense which currently holds six first round starters have finally found their gel and are playing at an extremely high level as a collective unit.
Despite Big Ben’s embarrassment of riches on offense, one could easily argue that the offense, specifically the pass game, has been a little lackluster BUT has found some extremely bright spots in the leagues youngest wide receiver JuJu Smith – Schuster. While Le’Veon Bell is averaging 95 rushing yards per game, he has just a mere 27.8 yards per game as a receiver, which is almost half of what he averaged as a receiver last season - leaving Roethlisberger with just Brown and as of late, Smith-Schuster as the most reliable targets while waiting for Martavis Bryant to breakout into the
receiver we all know he can be.
Through the first half of the season, Brown has caught 57 passes for 835 yards and three scores, while Smith-Schuster has 24 receptions for 424 yards and four scores, with 193 of those yards and a single touchdown stemming from a week 8 highlight performance in Detroit.
While the Steelers passing game may be dry at times, the pass – defense has shined bright. While Steeler Nation has long awaited for the Steelers defensive backs to shake their covering woes, you can’t credit the turnaround perforce of the pass defense without crediting inside linebacker, Ryan Shazier, who is the league's only player with over 50 tackles, at least five passes defensed and two interceptions.
This has been a chemistry check year for the Steelers offense and a prove it year for the defense and the best part isn’t that there’s a whole half of season left, but the fact that the Steelers entered their mid – season bye week uninjured and healthy should prove to be beneficial going into the second half of the season, making these next eight games a half to remember.