As evidenced by their incredible statistics from last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the best defenses in the NFL. With studs like pass-rusher TJ Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick anchoring the front and back end of things, head coach Mike Tomlin's group has a great chance at replicating similar success in 2020.
That's exactly what makes Steelers veteran defensive lineman Cameron Heyward expecting the loss of defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency this offseason, to be felt this upcoming campaign just seem strange.
"It's going to be tough," Heyward said when asked by The Athletic what it will be like replacing the four-year starter. "Hargrave is a great player. He is a player who can play multiple positions and wasn’t just a nose tackle”.
This quote should definitely worry fans in Pittsburgh. It's one thing to throw some love to a former teammate, but Heyward's comments sound like someone who isn't too thrilled with the prospect of replacing Hargrave. That's pretty shocking when you consider that the former is a three-time Pro Bowler was pretty dominant in 2019. For the year, Heyward posted 83 tackles, nine sacks, 23 quarterback hits and six passes defended while playing 81% of the defensive snaps.
In comparison, Hargrave logged 60 tackles, four sacks and six QB hits while playing 63% of snaps.
We get that stats don't always tell the full story in terms of a player's production, especially interior defensive lineman, but there's no doubting that Steelers fans expected more optimism from Heyward, who, as a nine-year veteran, is supposed to be the leader of Pittsburgh's defense.