Commentary

Is the Pittsburgh D too old?

The Steelers have one the oldest starting defenses ever, but don't expect them to suffer

Originally Published: September 8, 2011
By Aaron Schatz | Football Outsiders
Steelers DefenseAP Photo/Tom E. PuskarThe Pittsburgh defense has always been formidable, but is this the year age catches up to it?

Plenty of teams made significant roster moves this offseason, but not the Pittsburgh Steelers. The defending AFC champions made a couple of offensive line changes and let slot receiver Antwaan Randle El go. On defense, however, the players from last season's team are back for another shot at the title, just one year older. In the case of the Steelers, that one year older means the defense is pretty old.

On Sunday, the Steelers will start the same 11 defenders that started the 2010 opener. And that defense will be among the oldest in NFL history. The planned lineup going into 2010 averaged 30.5 years of age, although the actual lineup for the season ended up averaging 29.5 years because Ziggy Hood replaced an injured Aaron Smith. Now Smith is back, and the average age of Pittsburgh's projected defensive starting lineup for 2011 is 31.5. If those remain the starters for the entire season, the Steelers will be the oldest defense of the century by more than a year. Only Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley are under the age of 30.