When the Steelers took over the Steelers Nation logo and mascot this past week, the team had just five quarterbacks in their starting lineup.
That number is up to six now, and it’s expected to continue to grow, even as the team moves on from the veteran quarterback, James Harrison, who retired in February.
Pittsburgh’s offense has struggled to create big plays in recent weeks, especially against the blitz, and they’ve allowed just three touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks.
While the Steelers have struggled with their passing game, the defense has held opponents to a .934 points per game average, the fewest in the NFL.
The defense has allowed the fourth-fewest points per drive this season, the seventh-fewst in the league.
That’s a big part of why Pittsburgh is holding the NFL’s second-worst points-per-drive average at 4.19.
It’s also why Harrison has been such a big deal to the Steelers, especially when you consider that he’s just 27.
That doesn’t mean that Harrison is a bad quarterback, but he’s been one of the worst passers in the entire league.
He’s only had one season where he completed more than 50 percent of his passes, and his completion percentage has dropped to a career-worst 37.5 percent.
That means Harrison has thrown for over 300 yards just once in his career, and he has averaged just 14.3 yards per attempt over the last four games.
He threw just one touchdown pass against the Bengals last week, and that was his only throw of the game.
There are a few reasons that the Steelers could be concerned about Harrison, especially considering he has had a lot of success in his last four starts.
Harrison has struggled with his accuracy in recent years.
He was just 23 of 50 (39.1 percent) for a 61.5 passer rating when throwing for a touchdown against the Steelers last week.
The Steelers have been particularly susceptible to the run against the Ravens in recent games, as they allowed the most yards (2,072) to running backs last week and finished the day with the third-fewhest rushing yards per game (9.3).
Harrison has also thrown two interceptions this season.
He also has not been very good at completing passes, which is something the Steelers should be wary of.
Pittsburgh has allowed just 17.6 points per contest over its last five games, and Harrison has just five touchdown passes over that span.
While Harrison is good at the game, he’s not good enough to be an effective starter in the short term.
Harrison is currently one of three quarterbacks in the AFC South (the other two are Matt Cassel and Chad Henne) to not have a touchdown pass this season after completing just five of 23 passes last week against the Colts.
The other two quarterbacks in that division are Josh Freeman and Tony Romo, and both have a lot to prove at this point in their careers.
Harrison was also benched in favor of rookie Zach Mettenberger after he had one of his better games of the season against the Chiefs, throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
He finished the game with four catches for 78 yards.
While his overall stats look a lot better than last week’s, Harrison has looked a lot worse on film this season and it could be a long time before the Steelers get a shot to see Harrison again.
The biggest question surrounding Harrison is his durability.
Harrison played just 12 snaps last week due to an ankle injury, and the Steelers decided not to use him in their Week 14 win over the Ravens.
The injury could prove to be a big issue, as Harrison could be out for a couple of weeks.
The team has also seen an uptick in the number of players that have missed time due to injuries this year.
There’s a chance that Harrison will be out longer than that, and Pittsburgh’s backups are also likely to get the bulk of the snaps this week.
If the Steelers continue to see a steady supply of injuries to key players, Harrison could find himself on the bench in the long term.
The same could be said for Le’Veon Bell.
The Lions running back has been in the lineup for all 16 games, but his snaps have dwindled significantly over the course of the past few weeks.
He has just 13 carries for 63 yards, which has led to an average of just 2.3 rushing yards, per Football Outsiders.
It should also be noted that the Lions have also been unable to keep Bell in the backfield because he has been ruled out for the entire season with a broken collarbone.
If he doesn’t play again in time for Week 15, the Steelers will likely be without Harrison for the rest of the year.
While he’s an important piece to the offense, it’s important to remember that he will be a free agent after the season.
If his injury problems persist, it could lead to a trade or trade chip