Will the real Steelers please stand up?

That is the question for the 2013 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Will it be the 0-4 preseason Steelers? The 8-8 2012 Steelers? Or the Steelers of old, playoff and Super Bowl contenders, that we know and love?

They have the talent to compete for another title. But they had the talent last season when they went…You know.

Gone are All Pros James Harrison and Casey Hampton from the defense as well as rising young star Keenan Lewis at corner opposite Ike Taylor. Joining Taylor on defense are Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark at safeties. Who wins the Lewis cornerback slot is still in the air as well as the nickel back. The linebackers are still awesome with LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote and an all out war for Harrison slot between first round pick Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds. On the line will be rising star Ziggy Hood, All Pro Brett Keisel, and youngster Cameron Hayward.

Dick LeBeau had one of the best defenses in the game last year and expects to do the same this year. However, much of the success of the defense will depend on depth because there are always injuries in football and how well second string players are able to step in and do the job has a lot to do with any team’s success. The same will be true of the Steelers. And depth is the big question mark for this team, and that question will not be answered until the season starts and one of the starters go down, especially the defensive line.

The offense was the weak link last season and appears to be more of the same this year. Can they be consistent? But most importantly can they put points on the board at a high enough rate to take some of the pressure off the defense? With all the high powered offenses in the league today, with all the bright young super talented quarterbacks in the NFL who are going to just get better, can the Steelers offense keep up?

The offensive line has been a problem for years and nothing appears to have been done to correct the problem. They have the names. They have the high draft picks. But the results have been the same. Holes are not being opened for the backs. The quarterback is not getting enough time to find his receivers? Why?

At some point the blame has to be laid on the coaching staff.

They have a bunch of young talented players. Can they stay healthy? Can they get the job done? And much like the defense the offensive line will only be as good as its bench because unless a miracle happens, one or more of the offensive line starters are going down to an injury. Can the backups pick up the slack?

The running back position is loaded with talented players, maybe too many, but it remains to be seen if two or three can get the job done to take some pressure off the passing game.

In today’s game if you have no aerial attack, you don’t win. The game is about pitch and catch. And despite the loss of Mike Wallace the Steelers have one of the best collections of young talented receivers in the game. Headed by Antonio Brown who is among the top 5 in the game. Rounding out the talented group are Emmanual Sanders, Markus Wheaton, and Jerricho Cotchery giving them talent and depth. Starting tight end Heath Miller should be back by mid season making things look very bright

The talent is there but once again the overall success of the team lies at quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger is considered to be one of the best in the game. He has had the numbers the past few years but not the production. At some point one must stop pointing fingers at everyone else and look in the mirror. Can he compete with all the young guns who are all around him in the NFL who he will be facing week after week?

If he lives up to the challenge look for the Steelers to once again be in the Super Bowl hunt.

But if they are near or below 500, look for a house cleaning next season starting with the coach, then the quarterback.

I expect the Steelers to be a Super Bowl contender but not a Super Bowl participant. I expect the defense to be even stronger than last year but I’m still iffy about the offense. Ben has to show he’s still a top tear quarterback. If Ben does it the Haley way, then they will go far, but if he reverts back to his old ways of doing things the Steelers will be out of it early. They have stiff competition in the division in the Cincinnati Bengals and the defending Super Bowl champs Baltimore Ravens.

Ben has been an outstanding quarterback, but that doesn’t put any points on the board today, and these youngsters could care less. They’ll all be better with experience this season, and two of those young guns are in the Steelers division: Joe Flacco with the Ravens and Andy Dalton with the Bengals.


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