With the devastating Wild Card loss to the Denver Broncos, who subsequently went out and got obliterated on both sides of the ball by a seemingly one dimensional New England patriots team, slowly fading into the background of the psyche of the organization, it's time to start looking forward to next season. To that end, Pittsburgh has more going on this offseason than they have had in a while.
The first major hurdle was what to do with offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Arians, who has been a staple at the coaching position for a few seasons, had a contract that was up and a resume that was inconsistent at best. With that inconsistency in mind, the Steelers decided to part ways with Arians and to look for someone who could bring a bit more stability to the offense.
Once known for it's power running, the Steelers have quietly emerged as a pass first team in the past couple of years, with mixed results. When healthy, the offense would look and run great but once injuries kept them from passing like they wanted to, the Steelers were mostly ineffective at running the ball to supplement that loss of ability. This was highly noticeable and is something that is going to be addressed this offseason.
Another area of concern for the team is it's aging defense.
The defense, whether you want to call them experienced or old, has a number of players in the twilight of their careers. Players like James farrier, Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, and Larry Foote to name a few. With the Steelers $25 million over the salary cap, some hard choices have to be made and it's with these players, and others like them, that you will find the brunt of these choices.
The final significant hurdle the team has to address is what to do about the backup quarterback situation. Backups Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon are all unrestricted free agents and could land somewhere else. With Dixon gone for sure, he wants to be a number 2 QB, that leaves only the older Batch or the often injured Leftwich as the teams two top prospects for the backup job.
Not a very appealing choice either way, despite Batch's success in recent seasons.
Any way you look at it this offseason, the Steelers are going to be doing some major overhauling. Unlike other organizations, however, I have faith that the Steelers will do whatever is necessary to put a winning squad on the field next season. They have the track record of excellence that shows what they are capable of.
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