Well, coming off of winning a Super Bowl, you'd think that the Steelers don't have much they need to worry about when it comes to the offseason. That is totally not true. This team won, but if they want to win again, they need to freshen up in some fo their weak positions.
Here are the 5 positions I think we will need to do, to avoid an encore of the Super Bowl hangover we had in 2006.
5. Defensive Line
The defensive line was consumed of injuries this year, but it could have some players that may bring even more sparks to this penetrating defense. I cannot stress enough how awesome our 3-4 defense is, but it's just this d-line can't get to the quarterback quick enough, and are not making enough tackles to leave at a point where we can say our d-line is tough enough to deal with some of the best o-lines in the NFL. Getting to the players, Hampton has not had impact really since the 2004 season, and lets up as the years go on. Smith was injured for most of the year, and was a missed veteran, which made Kirschke step in and was not the guy we needed to fix that hole. Keisel in my opinion, is the strongest defensive lineman this team has from the three starters, and he was injured for the majority of the year, but when he plays, he is capable of being one of the best. Evander Hood, our first draft pick brings some speed to the defensive tackle position, and still weighs 300 pounds, and he could be a good run stopping lineman, and could be a starter in as short as a year.
4. Wide Receiver
Losing Nate Washington certainly did not help us. Ward & Holmes both had very good seasons, and brought excitement to the receiving aspect. but when we talk about depth, we do not have enough. The other receivers we have in the line-up are Shawn McDonald, Mike Wallace, Dallas Baker, and Limas Sweed. McDonald had a completely off year with being with the Lions, but the 2 years before the nightmare for the Lions, he was a decent 3rd string receiver. I have not seen enough of Wallace in college to rate him accurately, and could be a guy that could step up and move up on the depth chart. Baker has not had enough action on the field, and is usually on the practice squad, but there have been people saying that he has improved during this offseason. What can I say about Sweed? The perfect play that would describe Sweed's season, would be against the Ravens in the AFC Championship, when he dropped the wide open pass that was an easy walk-in touchdown. We will have to see what the Steelers can do to improve on this position, to increase their usage on the passing game that contained some flaws, not only from the receivers...
3. Fullback/Power Half Back
When it comes to getting down to the goalline, we flat out suck. We had about 3 games where we just pound the ball into the endzone inside the ten, which cameback to haunt us, and led to losses. Tomlin is calling Gary Russell our powerback for those 3rd & 1s. He has not converted nearly enough to get that role that takes alot of power, and just the mindset to say you're going to get across the line. Parker gets stood up in the backfield most of the time, but I would think that Moore could possibly be a power guy, but he is just a step or 2 off. We also can't forget of the "rookie" Mendenhall that was injured last year, he could have potential and could be someone with a promising future for this franchise. Also to add to the list of disappointing performers at sometimes, is our fullback Carey Davis, and it would be great if we had Dan Kreider come back, or just pick someone up of the free agent market that could replace him.
After a season that was definitely the climax of Bryant McFadden's career, he gets traded, which I think was a very dull move by the Steelers. Taylor does not have enough size, and is a corner that can get burned every now and then, and just on someplays gives up on coverage. Townsend is aging, and losing speed, but he had a great season. Now, when we talk about depth, we have Gay who has stepped up at sometimes but on the otherhand, Madison, and Bryant that have not had much action. I would say that the Steelers should probably make a move for someone, before the season starts back up, but if they don't they will make adjustments at some point after they realize the missing piece in our secondary. We did pick up two cornerbacks, Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett, I am not too sure about, but I have the all of the draft picks on this blog set as a related website, from profootball-fans.com.
1. Offensive Line
We all knew this was coming. We would see sack after sack game in game out, for most of the season. This weakness made our "coulda should woulda, but wasn't offense" inneffective. Our offense was closer to the bottom of the league, than it was to the top, and our offensive line is to blame. We cannot afford to let Roethlisberger get sacked more, considering he has been sacked already 192 times in only 5 years of his short career. The protection is embarrassing and is the one thing that makes me worry about our chances of becoming a decent offense. The run game also is effected by this and has made Willie an average back, when he was close to becoming on the verge of becoming one of the elite running backs in the NFL. The names Starks, Kemoeatu, Hartwig, Stapleton, and Colon are names people that do not follow the Steelers would be aware of. They are confused most of the time they are at the line, and are about 2 steps off against the blitz. If we fix our offensive line, we could very well have a very legitimate chance for getting another championship