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: Can the Steelers rebuild their offensive line without it taking a significant dip in quality?
For the bulk of the past decade, the Steelers have had one of the better offensive lines in the league. This came only following the concerted effort in rebuilding what had been a largely ignored position that was hit with some departures and misfortunes, as well as significant resources in coaching and development, but obviously it proved to be worth it.
Now, however, these linemen are getting long in the tooth, and as it concerns most of the younger ones on the roster, the jury is still out on them. All three linemen who have started for several years and have gone to Pro Bowls are on the wrong side of 30.
Matt Feiler looks like he can start and be good for a while, but what can we say about Chukwuma Okorafor? Zach Banner? Kevin Dotson? There are some players in the pipeline, but we don’t know who they will be yet.
Maurkice Pouncey probably doesn’t have many years left. How many more seasons will David DeCastro go? Alejandro Villanueva is in his age-32 season and it’s not even guaranteed that he gets re-signed next year.
After the Steelers lost players like Alan Faneca, Jeff Hartings, and Marvel Smith, they had a long period in which they had one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and it held them back. The rebuilding effort took years from 2010 to 2014 to really start to yield results.