Can it get any worse for the Pittsburgh Steelers? This team definitely does not look like the Super Bowl winning team they were a couple years ago. This team does not have enough talent to win their competitive division with the Bengals and Ravens on top. Here is what is holding the Steelers back from becoming AFC contenders:
Quarterback - Ben Rothlesberger has struggled to get the football to his receivers while he is getting chased in the pocket by angry lineman looking to sack him. If he wants to be successful, he, along with his whole offense, needs to step up and play tougher. If he can help bring back the confidence that the offense lost in the off-season, the whole team can take another step forward.
Running Backs - This position is the biggest question mark on the team. Le'Veon Bell was expected to finally be that extra push to make this team a playoff contender. But instead he has been out so far this season with an injury and is questionable this week against the Vikings. Filling his place are Issac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, LaRod Stephens Howling, and Felix Jones who have combined for only 143 yards. To me, this group of running backs is not ready to make a splash in the NFL and if the roster stays the same in the future it could be ugly.
Wide Receivers - Even though Mike Wallace, the Steelers' very good deep weapon, has packed his bags and has headed to Miami, this group has been pretty solid throughout the first 3 games. The stats might not look very good but that is because Big Ben has been getting sacked and does not have time to throw the ball. Antonio Brown really stepped up in the third game making a few plays look easy. Emanuel Sanders has been solid and Heath Miller finally might be ready to play again. If you're wondering how good the backups are, Jerricho Cothery has been a good number 3 option, and they also have Markus Wheaton the rookie. This wide receiver corps can get significantly better if Big Ben has more time to throw.
Offensive Line- When Maurkice Pouncey went down with a torn ACL and MCL I did not think it would be a huge deal to the offensive line. But apparently it was. The offensive line has been a big contributor to the poor start for the offense this season. They have struggled to protect the quarterback and have not helped the running backs either. Next year in the draft, free agency, or even a trade they need to improve their offensive line because it is vital to their success.
Defensive Front Seven - The Steelers defense is old and banged up. They are not and won't become a Top 10 defense if they don't improve their front seven. They have lost too many pieces such as James Harrison and Larry Foote. They use to be a good team that could rush the passer but I'm not so sure they can do it anymore with the talent available.
Defensive Backs - I still like Troy Polomalu, but he has gone down a level in terms of his play. Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor are still a big factor on this defense which should help the other secondary players improve. Even with those very accomplished Pro Bowlers on the roster I think this secondary is pretty mediocre. When I watch them play nothing pops out at me as a great secondary.
Overall - This team is old and most of their stars are past their prime. To be great again, they need to find young talent who they can develop into their new young stars.