The 2024 schedule for the Pittsburgh Steelers is downright brutal, especially late in the season. 

Six AFC North games from Week 11-18, a road trip to Philadelphia and oh, by the way, a Christmas Day matchup against the back-to-back Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs.


It doesn’t look pretty, and it won’t be easy for the Steelers, but for former NFL safety and current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison, the Steelers getting back to their roots, especially defensively, as a physical team, should help them this season.

“They have some improvements at the linebacker position, and guys healthy and getting Minkah Fitzpatrick back. Cameron Hayward, he’s gonna come back fresh even though he is an older player, still very productive,” Harrison said of the Steelers’ defense, according to video via the NFL on NBC YouTube page.” But overall, we haven’t even talked about their defense and the impact their defense makes. I like the Pittsburgh Steelers and I like them getting back to their roots, being physical on the interior of that defense.”

The Steelers, in a sense, have aimed at getting back to their roots, not just defensively, but offensively as well from a run-heavy approach.

That physical style was built upon defensively in free agency and in the draft. The Steelers made a major splash with the signing of linebacker Patrick Queen, shoring up an area of need, snagging him away from the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens in the process.

On top of Queen, the Steelers signed safety DeShon Elliott, adding another hammer defensively. He will dish out punishment, continuing to supplement a defense that already has stars Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward, not to mention promising young players in Alex Highsmith, Joey Porter Jr., and Keeanu Benton, and dependable veteran Elandon Roberts.

The Steelers continued to add to the defense in the NFL draft, landing linebacker Payton Wilson, defensive lineman Logan Lee and defensive back Ryan Watts, all of whom bring physicality to the table. 

In past years, the Steelers have leaned heavily on their defense to keep them in games, create short fields and win close games. That will again be the case this season, at least early on, as the new-look offense gels. The Steelers now have that physical presence to them that reminds Harrison of their roots, which should lead to some success in 2024 under head coach Mike Tomlin.

With the defense returning to its roots and the offense aiming to play a style that was once quite successful for the Steelers, Pittsburgh could see itself return to being the bully that the league worries about. That could ultimately lead to quite a bit of success on the field.


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