The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Do you feel better about the Steelers now than at this time last year?
General manager Kevin Colbert said this yesterday. I want to know if you feel the same way, too. Around this time last year, it was becoming increasingly obvious that Antonio Brown would not be a Steeler much longer, so they would be losing their best player, and Le’Veon Bell was due to leave in free agency as well.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, and T.J. Watt, however, were all coming off of very strong second seasons that promised even more in 2019. Only Watt made good on the promise of improvement, the others dealing with injuries as part of their struggles to reach their potential.
But the past year has seen the acquisitions of Steven Nelson, Devin Bush, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, as well as the ‘breakout’ season by Bud Dupree, whom the Steelers anticipate retaining for at least 2020. At the same time, at this time last year, Ben Roethlisberger was coming off a 5000-yard season in which he threw more touchdowns than anybody else in franchise history. Now he’s hoping that he can start throwing tennis balls soon while cultivating a chia pet on his face.
The offense in 2020 should be better than it was a year ago, but worse than it was in 2018. The defense will be better than in 2018, but it will be difficult to duplicate their numbers from a year ago, which included leading the NFL with 38 takeaways. They have 15 the year before. So the question stands: do you feel better or worse about this team than you did a year ago?