The Pittsburgh Steelers are used to the accolades and accomplishments from the players and coaches since 1974. It seems when one generation of Steelers legends move on to their life’s work, the next generation takes over seamlessly. Four of the latest are currently gearing up for 2017, and to move further up the all-time leader boards. While two of them are in the twilight of their careers, Roethlisberger and Harrison, the other two, Tomlin and Brown, are still in their prime.
Mike Tomlin is the third consecutive head coach for the Steelers to win 100 regular season games, and win at least one Super Bowl title. Currently, Mike Tomlin is the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl, and ranks 40th all-time among head coaches with 103 regular season wins. He has never experienced a losing season in his 10 years leading the team. If Mike Tomlin can match his career average of 10 wins per season, he will move up to 35th all-time in wins. With a 12 win season, Tomlin will move past George Seifert into 32nd place.
Ben Roethlisberger set the NFL world on fire back in 2004. As a rookie, he won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award by going 13-0 as a starter while guiding the Steelers to the AFC Championship game. Since then, Ben has won two Super Bowls while evolving into an elite quarterback. Currently, Roethlisberger is 10th all-time in career passing yards with 46,814 yards. With a 4,000 yard season in 2017, Ben Roethlisberger will jump up to 7th place, passing Warren Moon. He would become just the 10th quarterback in history to surpass 50,000 career yards. With another 185 completions, Ben will move past Warren Moon into the 8th spot in that category. If Ben matches the 328 completions he compiled last season, he will bump John Elway from 6th place.
James Harrison got off to a pretty rough start in his career. From the moment he recorded his first sack against the Cleveland Browns, he’s been the proverbial bull in a China shop. With 81.5 career sacks, the Steelers franchise leader is tied for 59th all-time with Shaun Phillips and Cameron Wake. With 5 more sacks, Harrison will jump up to 49th place, passing the likes of Charles Mann and Willie McGinest. In the best shape of his career, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Harrison posts double digit sacks this season.
Antonio Brown has been the best receiver in the NFL for the last three seasons. Despite facing double and triple coverage, he has managed to post historical numbers. With another 100 reception, Brown will become the first player in NFL history to do so for five straight seasons. 100 receptions this season will move Brown up from 57th all-time to 42nd, tying him with Santana Moss. 112 receptions would put him in 40th place. With 8,377 yards receiving, Brown is currently ranked 78th in NFL history. With another 1,000 yard season, he will move past John Stallworth, and a host of others, into 51st place. A 1,400 yard season would put 49th place in history.
Antonio Brown ranks 119th all-time in touchdown receptions. If he matches his career season average of 7, Brown would finish the year ranked 97th in NFL history, tied with Anthony Carter. In each of the last three seasons though, Brown has reached double digits in touchdown receptions. If he reaches 10, he will jump all the way up to 81st all-time. Going from 119th to 81st would be a rather impressive feat for someone with only seven years in the league.
An offense that is full of the league’s most dangerous weapons will be backed by a youthful defense that is edging closer to the Blitzburgh days of the early 90’s. 2017 has the potential of being a legendary season for the Steelers if they can stay healthy. Hopefully, as we get to witness four legends continue their climb up the all-time rankings, they will be taking the Stairway to Seven.