Pittsburgh Steelers, Byron Leftwich Poised to Assume Elite Status This Season

Omar BrownCorrespondent IJune 20, 2010

The Steelers are poised for big things this upcoming season.

Mike Tomlin is raising the bar on the on the running game and I see Maurkice Pouncey making a huge impression on opponents front seven, given the emphasis on the run Tomlin is approaching the season with.

One can't help but wonder how much Pounceys influence of the role Tim Tebow played in being arguably the greatest player in NCAA history, had to do with Pouncey being the first center the Steelers have drafted on the first round since 1937.

Speaking of huge impressions, the performance of running back Jonathan Dwyer has the Steelers coaching staff in awe of the potential the rushing offense possess this season.

From short yardage to long, according to Mike Tomlin, this season's sixth-round rookie sleeper from Georgia Tech, brings the speed and versatility to make him an every down back.

We can't be quick to forget that the Steelers won two of the last four Super Bowls, or how only four teams made it into the top ten of both defense as well as offense last season.

The Steelers are one of the four elite teams.

Pittsburgh's receiving corp is in the top ten of the league.

You will be hard pressed to find three faster WRs than the Steelers on any team.

Rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, add amazing speed to a receiving corp that already has a fast speedster in Mike Wallace.

Mike Wallace in his rookie debut, led the NFL in yards per catch at 19.4, nearly a full yard  better than runner-up DeSean Jackson.

It is speed like this in your receiving corp that can really open up lanes for the running game to thrive as it spreads out opponents and keeps safeties honest.

The Steelers also have one of the best backup QBs in the league in one Byron Leftwich.

His experience in the NFC South gives the Steelers a huge advantage in game planning those opponents, especially the Falcons and week Buccaneers.

the Steelers could very well indeed go 6-0 heading into the mid-season match-up with the Saints; considering the combined offensive average, of the first six opponents, ranked 20th last season.

The extreme speed that the Steelers have added to their wide receiving corps will allow Byron to pick up where Ben Roethlisberger left off last season.

In the last three games of the 2009 season against the Packers, Ravens and Dolphins, Ben managed to throw for 982 yards and seven touchdowns.

This passing offense is going to be amazing this season, despite the fact that Byron may be at the helm for the first four to six games.

Byron managed to be the third-ranked QB last season in the category of touchdowns and yards combined going into Week Three last season.

This begs the question, as to whether or not,  Byron was set up to fail by his own coaching staff, so they could plug in overrated mobile quarterbacks.

Last season, Byron’s performance in the first two weeks jacked the Buc's 28th-ranked offense to being fourth best in the league; that is before having the rug pulled out from underneath him by the coaching staff shutting down the offense.

How does a gunslinger like Byron only manage 22 yards on seven completions?

How does a rushing offense that racked up 231 yards rushing be held to just 13 yards rushing?

How can a QB come into a game and in just one late fourth-quarter drive outperform the passing and rushing offense that played the entire game?

Could it be as simple as the fact that the offense was opened up with the spread at the end of the game, when the mobile QB emerged on the field?

This after being locked down with a West Coast offense during the game when the pure pocket passer was out on the field. 

They say a picture can tell a thousand words.

Well the tale of the tape say's even more.

All one has to do have to do to appreciate the veracity of this paranoid and audacious take that Byron may have been sabotaged by his own coaching staff, is to look at the highlight reel from the Giants and Jags game on NFL.com.

The single footage of Byron trying to make the best of the situation, while his only two receivers were both sent to the same side of the field within yards of each other while the defenders swarmed on them like flies in the dog fight. This footage alone speaks volumes.

A 2005 top ten QB, Byron has been done so wrong for so long; that is why he has my heart as far as being my favorite player in this league. 

Where is a violin when I need one?

The reason Byron managed to accomplish the top ten feat, in 2005, was the result of being set free in the third quarter to unleash his cannon of an arm, before being locked back down again by the obsolete WCO. 

Once Jack Del Rio, who seemed to refuse the offense to take the glory off the field, got his lead back, Byron was reverted to simple dink and dunk management role—a role that turned his cannons into pea shooters.

Jack Del Rio is a throwback head coach who is clearly living in the wrong era.

His ultra conservative, in your face, mano-e-mano approach, as admirable as it may be, is outdated in the modern era.

I can only presume that the deep passing game is something Jack Del Rio considers being cowardly, given the fact that he prefers an ultra conservative approach instead of using the arrows of the deep passing game, which take the fight away from the front 7 on the battle field.

Whenever I watch the movie "300," I can’t help but think of the Spartan-looking Jack Del Rio.

"Persian: A thousand nations of the Persian empire descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun! Stelios: Then we will fight in the shade."

I think of JDR, especially when they are bombarded with the arrows, and Stelios calls them cowards for not fighting mano-e-mano style.

But back to my point...

Having watched Byron come out in 2008 and move the Steelers offense better than Ben did during the victory over the Redskins, where Byron managed to have a 145.8 QB ranking, I think it is fair to say that the Steelers are in great hands with Byron at the helm until Ben returns.


The Steelers are locked to have a stellar season with both Byron and Ben at the helm.

They have loaded this team with speed in the draft.

They have depth, especially at the linebacker position.

Now with the No. 1 2008 Super Bowl defense back together again, watch out.

Underrating an elite team like the Steelers, who beat both the Ravens and the Packers in December, could be a fatal error.



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