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5 Burning Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers

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Did Brett Keisel play well enough to open the door to a possible return in 2015? Might Mike Tomlin have managed the clock better late in the second half vs. the Saints? Is there something ominous behind the Steelers' reluctance to play Shamarko Thomas. Answer these and other Burning Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers....

Dri Archer looked lost in is 1 carry vs. the Saints. So did the rest of the Steelers for much of the day.
Dri Archer looked lost in is 1 carry vs. the Saints. So did the rest of the Steelers for much of the day.
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin teams were 6-1 coming off of a bye. New Orleans had just lost three in a row and had a short week to prepare. Yet the Steelers still went splat vs. the Saints.

This week sees the Steelers traveling down the Ohio River to Paul Brown Stadium, but before Pittsburgh can take on the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals, Steelers Nation must first grapple with these 5 Burning Questions.

1. Monday was a sad, sad day in Steelers Nation, as the Steelers placed Brett Keisel on injured reserve, ending his season. No one questions Keisel's contributions to the 2014 defense, but did he play well enough to open the door to coming back in 2015?

2. Keisel's replacement, Clifton Geathers has been on six NFL teams since being drafted in 2010. Nonetheless, BTSC editor Neal Coolong delivered a surprisingly positive evaluation of him. Given that the Steelers sole focus is on making the playoffs, do you think they're better served by bringing Geathers aboard, or would they have been better off with Nick Williams or Josh DeMauro (two practice squad players that were poached)?

3. Mike Tomlin took a lot of heat for his use of timeouts at the end of the second half. When asked about it, he explained himself this way:

I was extremely comfortable with our ability to move the ball after we gained possession of the ball. When you have the ball and timeouts it allows you to attack all elements of the field. I thought having those timeouts allowed us to do that in that two-minute drive. We were able to get chunks in the middle of the field. We just didn't operate well enough to finish the drive.

Agree or disagree? (And if possible, cast aside 20/20 hindsight.)

4. While we endeavor to avoid recycling questions, sometimes it can't be helped. During his press conference, Mike Tomlin was asked if Shamarko Thomas was to see more playing time:

Is anyone else troubled that the Steelers once thought enough to give up a third-round pick to get Thomas, but now don't seem to think enough of him to find a way to get him onto the field?

5. ESPN's Scott Brown has described the Steelers defense as "average on a good day" a description which seems fairly apt. Don't look now, but BTSC's Bryan DeArdo reminds us that the Steelers actually have the best defense in the AFC North.

Does that tell us something important as the Steelers head into the home stretch, or is it just meaningless statistical mush?

There you go folks. Remember please use a No. 2 dark pencil that is not a Faber Castel, and show your work to get full credit.