The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: How much worse can things get? How much better? What is the floor and ceiling for this 4-5 team?
Steelers players and fans are spending their Sunday night and Monday morning asking themselves a lot of questions about the future of this team, in particular the immediate future of the remaining seven games that make out the final stretch of the 2016 regular season. Pittsburgh has gone just 4-5 through the first nine games; what will their final record look like?
Will they got 7-0 and finish 11-5? Probably not. Will they go 0-7 and finish 4-12? Even more unlikely. The truth is inevitably somewhere in between, but where is the ceiling for their realistic potential, and where is the floor?
I’m not going to spend a great deal of time trying to answer that question, because the reality is that we don’t know enough about where they are right now to try to make that determination. The best I will say is that I believe their ceiling is as high as their floor is low. That is, there is a ton of wiggle room.
They have talent. They have All-Pro players on the offensive side of the ball, and some emerging talent on defense. But they also have a lot of moving parts and young players that they can’t wait to mature while they underdo their trial by fire.
Artie Burns has to play better if he is going to stay in the starting lineup, that much is obvious. The outside linebackers are going to need to find more success. How much of an impact can Bud Dupree actually have?
How much of an added dimension will Ladarius Green’s game truly bring to an offense that scored under 20 points in three straight games before yesterday? Can the offensive line be more consistent? What about the defensive line?
The Steelers have really been a Frankenstein team this year. They have scored 30 or more points four times. They have also scored 16 or fewer points four times. They have given up at least 27 points four times, but have also allowed 16 points or fewer four times. This is a different team on a weekly basis.