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 much better of a position would the offense be in this year if Ben Roethlisberger were to go down?
The Steelers last year were obviously very ill-prepared for the event of losing their franchise quarterback. They had two novice quarterbacks as their backups who had never thrown an NFL pass before, without a coach whose sole job was to work with quarterbacks, for one thing. Beyond that, the base level of play from the position was just not good enough, even with those other factors considered.
But Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges have experience now, and if Paxton Lynch squeezes his way in there, then it will mean that he is an upgrade over at least one or both of them. And they went out and hired Matt Canada, who has a ton of experience working with young quarterbacks, even if this is his first job at the NFL level.
Other things to consider: they are another year removed from the Antonio Brown effect; Shaun Sarrett is in his second season as the offensive line coach; the skill position should be healthier than last year; and the depth in general is better, and more experienced than last season.
The additions of Eric Ebron and Derek Watt also give the offense more options in terms of personnel versatility, which is obviously important if you’re working with an inexperienced backup quarterback in the starting lineup. Plus…they already did it for 14.5 games last year, so they should at least know what to expect.