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: How good does Ben Roethlisberger have to be for the Steelers to be a Super Bowl contender in 2020?
Outside of the mere question of whether or not there will be a season—and it’s increasingly less likely every day that the season is in jeopardy—I think this is the biggest of 2020 for the Steelers. At this point, they pretty much know they’re going to have Ben Roethlisberger. They also know it’s possible he may not be the same Ben Roethlisberger from 2018.
But with the strides the defense has made since he last played, and the predictable growth of the skill position players, how good to the Steelers need Roethlisberger to be this year to allow themselves to be a Super Bowl contender?
Will a top-five defense with a mid-tier offense get the job done? The offense was so bad last year they their opponents actually scored more points than they did, even though the Steelers had one of the best scoring defenses in the league.
I don’t think it’s even a question that Roethlisberger will play better, perhaps significantly better, than Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges did last season. One can only hope that the skill positions have better luck on the health front as well. But we also have to trust that that defense is going to stay great. One thing at least is unlikely, which is repeating the takeaway feat they had last year.