1 –Offensive Line
When making your futures bets at sportsbooks like NorthBet, it is important to see how teams change from season to season… and how they don’t change. The Steelers have failed to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons. They’ve truly been an average team, hovering at or near 8-8 as the result of noticeable deficiencies. None of the Steelers’ other shortcomings comes close to the one experienced along their offensive line. Injuries have certainly played a part here, and that has to be chalked up as a bit of bad luck for the organization, but that doesn’t change the larger reality: The Steelers have to get this part right – they have to patch up this part of their roster and build it back to where it once was.
When you think of Steeler football, you think of a tough, physical running game which sets up the passing attack and enables Pittsburgh to hit big plays down the field. That basic approach on offense has not materialized the past two seasons, as the Steelers’ offense has drifted through 16-game schedules without making much of an impact, and certainly not a sustained one. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t as mobile a quarterback as he used to be, but it has to be said that if he had a big-time running game to help him out, he’d probably fare a lot better and could still produce at an all-pro level. Unfortunately for him, the Steelers’ offensive line just can’t overpower opposing defensive lines the way it used to. Pittsburgh’s journey to Super Bowl XLV in February of 2011 is a distant memory at this point. Pittsburgh could stagnate on various levels, but if it figures out the right mix on the offensive line in the offseason, it should improve as a team.
2 –The Next Great Quarterback
Pittsburgh needs to begin to think about choosing a quarterback that can be groomed as Roethlisberger’s successor – not necessarily an instant fix, but as a quarterback who can learn for two three seasons as a backup and then be ready to take over in 2017. Pittsburgh has been lucky to enjoy such stability over the past decade, but Roethlisberger isn’t getting any younger, and while he should certainly be this team’s quarterback in 2014, the window in which he can (and should) be this team’s leader under center is closing. Let’s say that Roethlisberger runs out of steam in 2015. Does Pittsburgh want to start fresh in 2016 and perhaps waste a season trying to develop a quarterback? It might be time to draft that quarterback now and have him ready to be the starter in two to three seasons.
3 –Wide Receiver
This is a point of need since Mike Wallace departed for the Miami Dolphins. Pittsburgh has to have a guy who can stretch opposing defenses, making it easier for Roethlisberger to work the short passing game and generally pick his spots. If you visit NorthBet and check out the odds, you’ll notice that Pittsburgh is a longshot. That will improve if they get Big Ben more weapons to work with.