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: What are the Steelers’ chances of winning the AFC North with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger?
The Steelers had one of the best offenses in 2018, but while their defense was not poor, they let the team down in the fourth quarter several times. In 2019, they had one of the best defenses in the NFL, but arguably the worst offense, or at least very close to it.
The defense of 2020 is expected to resemble that of last season’s much more than is the offense, at least, provided that the Steelers get a healthy Ben Roethlisberger back under center. The last time he played a full season, he set new team records for passing yards and touchdowns, and their 51 touchdowns scored was the most in team history.
If Roethlisberger is healthy, this figures to be no worse than a 10-6 team, perhaps even as good as 12-4 if the defense can really keep up with the pace that they set last year and the offense has much better luck with health than they did a year ago.
But the question then becomes, can they keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens? They are coming off a 14-2 season, even if they did go one-and-done in the playoffs. Lamar Jackson figures to be a better player in year three, especially as a passer and with more experienced targets to throw to. The Steelers played them close in Week Five, but then got blown out to a team resting starters in the finale.