1. Steelers defense will take the ball away
In four preseason games, the Steelers forced eight turnovers, and outside of quarterback Landry Jones' Pick Fest with the Panthers defense in the final game, committed just four turnovers (seven turnovers overall). A plus-1 in the turnover differential department over the course of a year wouldn't be anything to celebrate, but it'd be a huge improvement from the previous year.
2. Youth movement on defense may have arrived
The play all preseason of the Steelers' younger front seven players was encouraging. Rookie Jarvis Jones may have been the star of the preseason, and contributions from defensive linemen like Brian Arnfelt, Alameda Ta'amu and Al Woods showed legitimate reasons to get excited about the direction of that unit. All three of them have a reasonable chance to make this team. If they aren't contributing this year, next year looks pretty strong.
3. Lack of running game has to sharpen other areas
Playing without projected starter Le'Veon Bell hampered the Steelers' offense all around, and while it still did some good things, it didn't do anything positive consistently. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley showed multiple times in 2012 there will be games the team leans heavily on a running plan, and there are games in which the arm of Ben Roethlisberger will lead them. They need to show more consistency as a first-team unit.
4. Special teams needs to get it together
At least one major special teams gaffe was committed in each preseason game. The Steelers, in four preseason games, lost a fumble on a punt, allowed both a field goal and a punt to be blocked, gave up a kick return touchdown and allowed a safety - a rare play in the NFL that can only be attributed to a very poor decision (this one courtesy of rookie Reggie Dunn, who was desperately trying to make a play in order to make this or another team).
The unit was simply awful through the preseason.
5. Regardless of the finish, the journey only just started
The Steelers are in a tough division and no longer have the large core group of veteran leaders it used to have. They will have to fight their way up this season, and likely, will take a few bangs along the ascent of that ladder. However, talent rises to the top if it's led properly. There is still the tradition of this franchise, and a coaching staff that's gotten the job done several times in the past. Perhaps it's up to them this year to get that young talent to play above what they have been over the last season.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers vs. Panthers Postgame News and Updates
- Little has changed in running backs group
- Final 53 man roster predictions
- Colbert: No contracts being negotiated
- 5 things we learned this preseason
- Chris Carter named Steelers Digest Player of the Week
- Steelers fans reactions to loss to Carolina
- Winners and Losers from Steelers loss to Panthers
- Steelers lose 25-10 to Panthers in preseason finale
- Will Johnson injury update
- Steelers vs. Panthers: Linebackers are what to watch
- NFL settles concussion suit
- Which Panthers player would you want on the Steelers roster?
- 2014 NFL Mock Draft
- Steelers Film Room: Redman should start
- 5 Questions with Cat Scratch Reader
- Mike Adams sounds off on Johnny Manziel
- Steelers vs. Panthers: Last-ditch effort for several Steelers first-year players
- Steelers Film Room: The boom or bust running back