The New England Patriots last met with the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 8, 2019. The season opener and unveiling of the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl banner saw the Patriots win 33-3 at Gillette Stadium.
Since then both teams are pretty much completely different with just a few holdovers.
The following 11 players were on New England’s 53-man roster in 2019 who are still on the active roster in 2022.
RB Damien Harris, WR Jakobi Meyers, OT Isaiah Wynn, DE Deatrich Wise Jr., DL Lawrence Guy, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, CB Jonathan Jones, S Devin McCourty, P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, ST Matthew Slater
Offense: The Patriots offense is pretty much completely different coming into this game as the only starter from 2019 that remains is Wynn. Harris and Meyers were basically non-factors in that contest and are now two of New England’s 11 offensive starters.
Mac Jones will be seeing the Steelers for the first time in his career along with running back Rhamondre Stevenson. The wide receivers now are Meyers, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. The tight ends in this one are Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith opposed to Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo. The offensive line is completely different as Wynn shifts over to right tackle with Michael Onwenu playing right guard. David Andrews missed the 2019 season due to blood clots in his lungs, and will be at center in this one. Rookie Cole Strange will at left guard while Trent Brown holds down the left tackle position.
Defense: The defense has a lot of new players mixed in with a few from the 2019 blowout. On the defensive line Guy and Wise Jr. have stuck around but New England has added Christian Barmore, Davon Godchaux and Carl Davis Jr. Bentley is the only returning linebacker and will be playing alongside Matthew Judon, Raekwon McMillan and Jahlani Tavai in this upcoming matchup. The secondary returns McCourty and Jones as they will be joined by Jalen Mills, Jack Jones and Myles Bryant at corner/Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and Jabrill Peppers at safety.
Special Teams: The special teams unit in the aspect of the team that is most intact from the matchup three years ago. Nick Folk will be the kicker opposed to Stephen Gostkowski while Bailey returns as the punter/holder and Cardona is still doing the long snapping. In terms of pure special teams players, Slater returns and in this meeting the Patriots will have Cody Davis and Brenden Schooler helping the unit.
Coaching: Bill Belichick’s coaching staff has made some changes over the course of three years. Joe Judge and Nick Caley are back with Judge now as the offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach. Matt Patricia, Nick Sunseri, Troy Brown, and Billy Yates are all different from the 2019 staff as Patricia now is calling plays for the Patriots. The defensive side of the ball has a lot of names returning but in different roles. DeMarcus Covington (defensive line), Jerod Mayo (linebackers), Steve Belichick (linebackers) and Mike Pellegrino (cornerbacks) all return with in these roles. Brian Belichick has joined the staff as the safeties coach. Cam Achord returns but this times as the special teams coordinator with Joe Houston coming in as a special team assistant.
These eight players were on Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster in the last matchup and are still on the roster now:
QB Mason Rudolph, RB Benny Snell Jr., WR Diontae Johnson, OL Chukwuma Okorafor, DL Cameron Heyward, DT Tyson Alualu, CB Cameron Sutton, K Chris Boswell
Offense: The Steelers retain four offensive players from the last matchup and two are now starters in Johnson and Okorafor. Their starting quarterback this week will be Mitchell Trubisky who came over from the Bills in the offseason. Najee Harris is expected to be the running back, but we could see some of the rookie Jaylen Warren as Harris was banged up last week.
At wide receiver this time round we will see Johnson, Chase Claypool and rookie George Pickens running most of the routes. The tight end room features Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry. Okorafor was a backup in 2019 but now he is the starting right tackle with James Daniels at right guard. Their center is Mason Cole, while Kevin Dotson handles the left guard duties and Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle.
Defense: In theory, the defense would have some major holdovers from the matchup three years ago as Pro Bowlers Heyward and T.J. Watt would still be with the team. Watt, however, will miss this week's game with a torn pec and has been sent to injured reserve after suffering the injury last week.
Despite the loss of the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year this Pittsburgh defense is still very good. The starters on the defensive line feature Heyward, Alualu, and Larry Ogunjobi. The starting linebackers heading into Week 2 are Alex Highsmith, Myles Jack, and Devin Bush; Malik Reed is expected to step up in Watt’s absence. The starting corners are Sutton and Akhello Witherspoon with Arthur Maulet in on nickel packages. The safeties are Pro Bowler Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds.
Special Teams: Pittsburgh’s special teams unit has had some major turnover since 2019. The only remaining player from this unit is the kicker Boswell. They have new punter is Pressley Harvin III and the long snapper is Christian Kuntz. Returning kicks and punts for the Steelers is old friend Gunner Olszewski so the Patriots know how effective he can be.
Coaching: The main holdover from the Steeler's coaching staff is head coach Mike Tomlin. He has two new coordinators in Matt Canada (offense) and Teryl Austin (defense). Austin was formally a senior defensive assistant/secondary coach in 2019. John Mitchell sticks around as the assistant head coach and Eddie Faulkner stays as the running backs coach. Another former Patriot tie is that Brian Flores is now a senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach. He may be able to provide insight on how to handle the New England offense.