For a team coming off a Super Bowl winning season, there certainly are an unusual number of questions surrounding the team for this point in the preseason. And tomorrow's last tuneup probably won't clear anything up for anxious fans, as Cowher is expected to sit a number of key starters.
With a head scratching battle at cornerback, a quarterback coming off a terrifying injury, and another preseason of unfruitful offensive production, the Steelers couldn't possibly said to be in "mid-season form."
Is there cause for panic? That's the only real question, and the answer there is a resounding 'no.' The Steelers were miserable in the preseason last year, return all the key ingredients from the champsionship squad, and are still coached by some of the league's best.
The bottom line is that the Steelers are going to try to win the way they've been so successful at winning since Cowher came to town: great defense, solid running, smart passing, time management. Roethlisberger has developed into one of the game's better managers, Parker has developed into one of the league's ten best runners, and the defense is still one of the best. With Casey Hampton eating up blockers in the middle, and elite linebackers - not to mention Polomalu - beating the Steelers in a shootout will continue to be difficult.
The stout Steeler defense all starts
up front with Big Casey Hampton.
And let's not forget just how good Whisenhunt was in the playoffs last year. Zigging when opponents thought he would zag, Whis, Ben, and the Steeler offense made the most improbable Super Bowl run in history. If injuries don't derail this team, they can improve on 2005's regular season, and should be (slight) favorites of the competitive AFC North.
And that's really the only thing we need to really be worried about right now - injuries. If Hampton, Roethlisberger, Parker, Ward, or Polomalu get hurt, it's time to get worried. Until then, there's all the reason in the world to believe this is another playoff football team. And as we all know so well now... once you get in, anything can happen.