The future of the Pittsburgh Steelers is now. This 2012 NFL season was a wake up call for Steelers fans and after having a franchise of such stability for so long, everyone was able to see just what happens when the apple cart is upset. I think most of the players and fans are struggling to put this season behind them and start to prepare for 2013.
But all other things aside, this team is going to go exactly as far as their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can take them. And whether fans of anyone else want to own up to it, this team is not built around Roethlisberger. With a career of about four more seasons left in him, this team must address the roster around him if they want to win.
Most NFL fans, coaches, players and whomever else like to toss around cliches like no players is bigger than the team, or every player is just as important as another. I’m here to say that as far as the Steelers–and, to be frank, most teams are concerned–it’s a bunch of hooey. This team lives and breathes through Roethlisberger, just like every good team does when they are led by a star quarterback. Show me the playoff team that has a bad quarterback. It just doesn’t happen. Even the teams that are being led by rookies and second year players are handing them the keys to the car and putting all the bells and whistles around them to help them be successful. They do this because they understand that this makes their team better.
But this year, that’s not what Steeelers fans saw. They saw a team that was going in one direction and a quarterback going in another. What must the Steelers do in order to help Roethlisberger succeed that they aren’t doing now? I really see three things the Steelers could do immediately that would really help Roethlisberger play better and with that the team win more.
First is the offensive coordinator. We can sit and debate whether or not offensive coordinator Todd Haley is a good coach or not, but the fact is there is something about he and Roethlisberger that don’t mesh. The Steelers need to find an offensive coordinator who can maximize what Big Ben does well and not try and make him do things he’s not comfortable with. If not, head coach Mike Tomlin needs to sit down with Haley and make him understand he needs to tailor his offense to Roethlisberger and not the other way around.
Second is to get him another big target. Whether it’s a big tight end to pair with Heath Miller or a big wide receiver to compliment the more undersized speed players on the outside, Roethlisberger needs another target out there he can count on when the play breaks down and he has to move. A big body that doesn’t need to be 60 yards down field, just smart enough to come back to the ball and keep working hard to get open. If this means wide receiver Mike Wallace leaves via free agency, so be it.
Finally, the Steelers need to keep him upright. You notice on this list I make no mention of the running game or a dynamic franchise running back–because, quite honestly, I don’t care. But I do want a group of linemen who match up better against the big physical defenses the Steelers face. For as great as he is, center Maurkice Pouncey gets pushed around a lot and the guards just aren’t able to help. These lineman have to be able to hold up at the point of attack and, when things break down, be able to maintain their blocks and work hard to keep blocking.
The AFC is a conference that is wide open going into next season. Some team has to win it, so why not the Steelers? All the other things aside, I can’t see this team contending for a Super Bowl if these three concerns aren’t addressed before the start of the season. What do you think the Steelers need to do?
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