So this season has not gone at all as planned. The Steelers have been hit pretty hard by the injury bug and, the lack of a consistent running game is absolutely killing them. As a life long Steeler fan I am proud to say that over the past ten years I have been incredibly spoiled. It seemed every year that they would come out guns blazing and reload new talent and they would be just fine. This year a lot of problems are finally catching up with them.
The offensive line that has been a constant ailment over the past few seasons. It used to be Alan Faneca, Marvel Smith,and Jeff Hartings as one of the premiere O-lines in all the league. Jerome Bettis and Dan Kreider pounding the ball right up the middle and "Steeler Football" was in full swing as always. Nowadays we have Maurkice Pouncey who can not seem to stay healthy. David DeCastro who also has health problems as well as the rest of the line being a makeshift unit of no-names. As for running backs they do not have a big bruiser. It is to the point I feel we should just make Big Ben a running back since he can at least pound the ball up the middle for a yard.
As far as an evaluation goes it is pretty easy for me. In wins they have played serviceable football. They have ran the ball well against the Jets and Ravens but it is continually inconsistent. Le'Veon Bell has proven he can play in a pressure situation sort of. He had a fantastic game against Baltimore. Against Oakland however he fell flat on his face. Now do not get me wrong the line had their mishaps in that game as well and forgive me for putting so much pressure on a young rookie running back but he is not a "Steeler" running back or at least he has not proven that to me yet. Big Ben on the other hand can only do so much. He has not had any support as far as other offensive players stepping up. Heath has been really un-Heath like this season. Going back to the line it has not helped him out much either. I give the Offense a mid-season grade of a "D" mainly because they have proven that they can play but, are playing well below their potential. Also some of the fault can be placed on the play calling of Todd Haley. On the upside their is a ton of room for improvement going into the second half.
Now to the defense which has been okay at best. The lack of turnovers is scary. They can count on the defense to get a big 3-and-out but not a big time interception or fumble recovery and so on. They are however keeping the Steelers in the game when it counts. They do not allow a lot of points although they have been a bit more lenient on the run this season. The secondary has been average as well as the linebacker play but for the most part I believe they have done their job except for the game against Oakland. I give the defense somewhere in the realm of a "C+". They will get better as the season progresses. Jarvis Jones will hit his stride and the front 3 will start to put more pressure on the quarterback. I also feel Troy Polamalu has a lot of good football left in him and will bring home a solid second half.
Overall I give the Pittsburgh Steelers a "C-". They have proven in the second quarter of the season that they have somewhat figured it out. They are running the football a little better and Ben is being more like Ben. Ultimately I believe the Steelers will end up somewhere in the 8-8 range to end the season. From what I have seen from Bell he may or may not establish himself as the feature back but for me that remains to be seen. I have not totally given up on the playoffs yet because as a life long student of the game I realize that anything can happen. Let us all hope that the second half is more fruitful than the first.