2017 Offseason Questions: Was 2016 A Success Or Failure?

The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.

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 offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Do you consider the 2016 season a success or a failure?

There’s only one more day left in the 2016 season after today with the Super Bowl taking place tomorrow. After that, it’s officially offseason mode for everybody, with about a month or so before the new league year kicks in in the early stages of March.

The Steelers’ season ended a couple of weeks ago, but they reached further than 28 other teams managed to—further than they have been since 2010. In fact, they have been making clear incremental strides for a number of years in a reverse bell curve.

Pittsburgh reached the Super Bowl in 2010, then lost in the Wildcard round the year after. They missed the playoffs entirely for two years before returning in 2014, only to go one-and-done again. They won their first playoff game since 2010 the following year, reaching the Divisional Round, and now, this past season, they reached their 16th AFC Championship game.

That is probably further than a lot of people believed they would be able to go, and it doesn’t help that they were unable to keep their Killer Bs on offense intact all through the playoffs, as Le’Veon Bell was injured once again, though he did finally get to contribute in a postseason game.

This season, the Steelers offensive line took a major step forward in solidifying itself as one of the best units in the league, and they also established depth. The defense saw the injection of three rookie starters who all made an impact over the course of the year, and Bud Dupree’s late return showed positive development.

We got flashes from Sammie Coates when healthy, and all of this was also done without Martavis Bryant. They did win nine games in a row as well, and it took the 15-2 Patriots (including the postseason) in Foxboro without Bell to end it.

Have the Steelers made enough important strides toward a Super Bowl appearance this year to consider the season a success? Will the Super Bowl window still be open with a franchise quarterback in tow by the time the surrounding talent is prepared for that task?

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