Just a year after winning the Super Bowl, the Steelers are out of the playoff hunt. After opening the season 2-6, it was a longshot to get back into it, and despite a late push to get to 7-7 the team did, as expected, fall short.
We can't even go back and play "what if" with this team, as in, "What if we'd beat the Oakland Raiders, like we should have?" And why can't we? Because we just got finished being whipped 31-7... at home. We didn't belong in the playoffs, even if we might have backdoored our way in with some less sloppy play early on.
The facts are what they are - the 2006 Steelers weren't a great football team.
So what's next? Project Number One must be to get Ben Roethlisberger back on track. It was a downright awful year for Ben - on and off the field. He badly needs a chance to rest, regroup, rethink, and rededicate. We admire Ben for his gutty efforts to be on the field this season, but it was bad news after bad news with Ben this season, starting with the motorcycle crash.
Roethlisberger needs to get in the film room, work hard to study each and every mistake he made, and then work his ass off to get in tip top shape. It was a tough year on his body, and he's got a lot of work to do to get back where he needs to be. If he does, I think we've all seen that he's capable of being a winning quarterback. He's not going to win games all on his own, but he's a playmaker and a solid leader. He's got to get that confidence back. It won't be easy.
Defensively, the team wasn't as bad as it played at times, and I saw some real improvement from some key young players, especially in the secondary. We'll get into all this in detail in the offseason.
For now, I agree with Blitz - let's focus on finishing on a strong note and giving our best effort on Sunday to close things out. A win over the Bengals would be a great start to an important offseason.