5 Items on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Christmas List
5 Items on the Pittsburgh Steelers' Christmas List
It's the holiday season, and that means that all the good girls and boys around the globe are clamoring for the fat man in red to slide down their chimney and deliver the gift that they've wanted all year long. Well, NFL franchises are no different in terms of having a wish list, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in particular sure could use some of Santa's magic to help them.
With the Steelers staring at not making the postseason, some of the items that are on this wish list are not for this season but for the future. The list doesn't include things that are impossible. As much as Steelers fans would like Santa Claus to magically increase the salary cap or force Roger Goodell to step down as commissioner, those just aren't going to happen.
Santa Claus might not be able to do those things, but he certainly is able to deliver some gifts to Pittsburgh for the boys in black and gold - if they've been good, and that is an entirely different debate that has been ongoing for this entire season. After starting 0-4 the Steelers were anything but good. Quite frankly, they couldn't do anything right. Winning five of their next seven games helped turn Santa's attention away from the naughty list and has the Steelers in line for some Christmas cheer.
Lucky for you, the Steelers have shown me their wish list for Christmas this year, and I will share five things with you that are the top priority for the team. Take a look, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+
5. A Rush Defense
The Steelers' defense has left a lot to be desired for fans around the globe, but the most disappointing part has been their rush defense. Those that are looking for help in the future will have to rely on free agency the draft as their defensive line situation is only bound to get worse. Defensive end and former first round draft pick Ziggy Hood will be able to test the free agent waters at year's end, and to throw gasoline on the fire Brett Keisel is most likely done with the Steelers and as an NFL player after this season.
So, where does this leave the defensive line after this year? If Hood isn't re-signed and Keisel isn't given a new deal you are looking at Cam Heyward, Steve McLendon and Al Woods to make up your defensive line next season. Heyward has been the bright spot on the line this season and hopefully will continue to improve, but McLendon hasn't been effective this year and Woods simply doesn't have much resume to put towards him being a starter next season.
A rush defense starts up front, and that is why starts the Steelers' Christmas list this holiday season.
4. A Healthy Lamarr Woodley
Steelers fans that think the team will cut ties with their outside linebacker might not be looking at the reality of the situation. Woodley's contract would hurt the organization too much when they are already listed as over the salary cap for next season. They simply cannot afford to cut Woodley. With that said, you then have to turn your attention to the fact that No. 56 is going to be in the lineup.
Believe it or not, when Woodley was healthy this season he was affective. He garnered five sacks in his first six games, but that is when the wheels started to fall off -- both figuratively and literally. Woodley's injury history is troublesome as the linebacker enters his 30s, but if the Steelers could get a full season of production out of Woodley all would be forgotten.
Woodley can still get to the quarterback when healthy, and that is why Woodley's health next season is on the Steelers' wish list.
3. A Reliable Punter
It may sound silly that the Steelers ask for a punter for Christmas, but when was the last time the Steelers had a reliable punter on their roster? Josh Miller? That dates back to the Cowher era when Kordell Stewart was choking away AFC Championship games. Since Miller the Steelers have seen the likes of Mitch Berger, Daniel Sepulveda and Drew Butler just to name a few. After starting the year with Zoltan Mesko, Mat McBriar is now the punter on the roster, but I doubt anyone would say he is a lock for the long term with Pittsburgh.
Why is a punter important? When a team doesn't gain enough yards for a first down it is nice to know that you have a punter that will be able to not only pin the opposition deep within their own territory but at least flip the field position. When the Steelers punt you never know what you are going to get, and that inconsistency can be a killer for a team that is trying to claw their way back into the playoffs.
Special teams are important, and anyone that disagrees only has to watch a punt return go the distance for a touchdown to then realize that a punter actually would be a nice addition to the Steelers' wish list.
2. Quality Line Depth
The Steelers are a team that is strapped financially, but that doesn't mean acquisitions cannot be made that can benefit the team in the long run. The Steelers offense is slowly becoming a threat, and they are doing so with a myriad of different offensive linemen. This is not only astonishing but also beneficial to the future of the line where the players getting the experience now will be quality backups in the future.
The defensive line is also seeing some transition with players like Al Woods being inserted into the lineup that will get quality depth, but depth doesn't simply come from the within the organization. The Steelers would benefit from trying to find a couple journeymen veterans that could come in and be a versatile yet effective member of the team that will bolster the depth on both lines. Think of a Doug Legursky and Chris Hoke type of player -- someone who can play multiple positions and do their job at every one.
The Steelers are a team that might have solid starters at a lot of positions, but look at the depth of the team and you'll see weakness after weakness. This is something that should be addressed not only in the offseason but by the big man from the North Pole.
1. A Christmas Miracle
Let's face it; when the Steelers started 0-4 and then 2-6, there was no one that thought the playoffs were even a possibility. I'll eat my own words when I wrote an article titled "Forget the Playoffs, this is about Pride." Now, the playoffs are a viable possibility, but the Steelers don't control their own destiny -- which is a scary thing when a team has to rely on the help of others to get into the postseason.
The Steelers need to win, and that is all that they can be concerned with at this juncture. But the Steelers also will be scoreboard watching at Heinz Field during the game this Sunday hoping that the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers all drop their games to give the Steelers a shot at a seventh Lombardi trophy.
It may sound crazy, but stranger things have happened. And with Santa's help a Christmas miracle could be underway.