DISCLAIMER: I don't think that the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers are going to go 13-1 with Mason Rudolph at the helm. Hell, I wouldn't put money on them to make the playoffs. Can they, though? Sure they can.
It is possible for the team to be good. Many people have written off the possibility entirely.
The analogy has been drawn to 2004. Tommy Maddox, just like Ben Roethlisberger, went down with an elbow injury. Then a QB who'd never played a regular season snap stepped in to command the huddle. That's usually where the comparison stops.
After all, that 2004 team went 15-1. They ran the ball better than any team in football. The defense was stout. Those things can't be said about the 2019 version of the club, right? Well, I think the jury is still out there.
In fact, I'm not interested in comparing 2004 to 2019. I'm interested in the jumping off points for each of those teams. The 2003 Steelers went 6-10. The 2018 Steelers were 9-6-1.
In my mind, it was far less plausible for the 6-10 team to turn around with the rookie QB and go 15-1 than for the 9-6-1 team to make the playoffs.
People say that the 2004 defense was great, and that 2019's version sucks. How many people thought the 04' defense was going to be good after watching the 03' defense play? Probably not a lot. The 2003 unit ranked 9th in yards allowed, 15th in scoring defense, 12th against the run, and 11th against the pass.
Those aren't great numbers. In fact, they look a lot like the 2018 Steelers defensive numbers. Last years team was 6th in the league in yards allowed, 16th in scoring defense, 6th against the run, and 10th against the pass.
Yet people are telling me that it's inconceivable that the defense can make a jump similar from 03' to 04'. I ain't saying it's *going* to happen. I'm saying it *could* happen.
The other thing people tell me is that, "the 2004 team could really run the football! This team can't." Well, I'm not convinced of that, either. The 2003 Steelers were 31st in the league in rushing. The same as the 2019 version. They were able to completely turn that around in one year. Why can't this team?
I'm not telling you that 2019 is going to be like 2004. I am saying that this team has at least as good of a starting point.