Sports Outside the Beltway

Bettis: Steelers Unlikely To Repeat

Jerome Bettis is doing well at his new job: he’s not spared the Steelers so far.

First, it was the “Cowher is going to retire” kurfluffle, where Bettis told his crew that Cowher is thinking of going to leave after this season. While Cowher denied it, the rumors still swirl, and will continue to do so until Cowher signs an extension.

Now, Bettis is saying that the Steelers likely won’t repeat:

Jerome Bettis, television analyst, doubts that the Steelers can repeat as Super Bowl champions because of an unsteady offense that already misses Jerome Bettis, brutish halfback.

“This is a totally different football team now than we had when we went on that run,” Bettis said yesterday in an NBC conference call to promote the Miami-Steelers opener that kicks off the network’s “Football Night in America” coverage Thursday.

“The question is: Are they capable of repeating? … That remains to be seen yet. But it’s not the same team. It’s going to be a work in progress. It’s going to be very, very difficult for them to repeat. They’ve got their hands full.

“They may have to rely on Ben Roethlisberger’s arm a lot more than they have the prior two years. … I’m not certain about the running game, how consistent it will be churning out the tough yards.

“Obviously, with myself not being there, that poses a question.”

“Looking at the roster, you’d say Duce Staley … would have to fill that [power back] role.”

“If he makes the team,” interjected fellow NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth.

“Exactly,” concluded Bettis.

We hate to admit it as Steeler fans, but he’s got a point: I said as much last night. They are a very different, unproven team on offense. The defense should be OK, but the offense has a lot to prove, espicially the running game. Don’t be surprised to see them struggle out of the gate. I doubt they will go 6-10, but they aren’t going to be on the same roll they were last year either, and will have to feel out a new role in order to repeat.

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