While the NFL season has just ended, and we’ve got a long offseason ahead, it’s never too early to start looking toward next year. Can this Steelers team bring a 7th Lombardi trophy to Pittsburgh next season?
Yes, the Super Bowl just concluded this Sunday. The Denver Broncos were crowned champions of the football world, and Peyton Manning may have played his last game of football.
I’m afraid it’s official. Football season is over, and now we enter the bitter months of the offseason. While the offseason can be fun with free agency, and the draft to look forward to, it just doesn’t bring the same thrill as watching your team on their journey to win it all.
For those fans that root for the black and gold, there’s a lot to be excited for next season. I know we’ve got quite a ways to go before that time comes, but it’s never too early to talk Super Bowl in Steeler country.
According to the latest Vegas odds, the Steelers are one of three teams, including the Seahawks and Patriots, listed as the most likely to bring home the trophy next season.
Of course, a lot can happen between seasons. Depending on who Pittsburgh chooses to resign, let go, pick up in free agency, and eventually draft, it’s impossible to know what the Steelers roster is going to look like heading into training camp, and the games next year.
With that being said, we know a few things. One vitally important thing is that the Steelers are most likely heading into 2016 healthy.
Health was a major issue for Pittsburgh this year. The Steelers endured multiple injuries to their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, and the loss of running back Le’Veon Bell for the season was very tough for fans to watch for a second time (even with the emergence of DeAngelo Williams). Who knows what could’ve happened in the playoff game against the Broncos had Antonio Brown been able to play.
The prolific Steelers offense took some serious beatings last season, and a healthy team could be seriously unstoppable. All we know at this point is that we’re probably not losing anyone too too important to this insanely stacked offense.
The defense was obviously a major issue throughout the season. The promising aspect of things was watching the development of players like Ryan Shazier or Stephon Tuitt. The Steelers have basically started a youth revolution on the defensive side of the ball, and have seen improvements from multiple players and position groups.
The defensive line was definitely improved, and was able to stop the run for the most part, and also ranked 5th in the league in sacks, an impressive stat to say the least. No one knows if James Harrison is going to return, but if he doesn’t, the Steelers have stocked up on many young line backers to fill in if need be.
The major ailment to the Pittsburgh defense was the secondary or pass defense. It was absolutely atrocious for most of the season. President Art Rooney II addressed the issue, and said that they plan to really take control of that situation this year, which could mean some free agent signings and probably some draft picks dedicated to fortifying or at least improving that secondary.
Another factor that people are totally forgetting is that fact that our 2nd round pick from last year, Senquez Golson, didn’t play a snap last year after being placed on the IR on training camp. With his return, who knows what he’s capable of, and if he’s any good, that could be a huge boost to the team.
If the secondary issue is addressed this season, there is no saying how far this team could go.
In the end, the offense is possibly the most explosive in the league, and when healthy, is simply unstoppable, and capable of scoring more than 30 points a game. We have to remember that it was this offense that was the only real one to solve the champion Broncos defense this year.
If the defensive struggles are addressed in free agency, and the draft, and the offense stays as healthy as can be, the Steelers should definitely remain in the Super Bowl discussion, and should be looked at as a serious contender for the coming season.
Happy Offseason, everyone. It’ll be football time again soon enough.