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5 factors which will impact the Steelers’ offensive production next season

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The Pittsburgh Steelers offense will be looking to pick up where they left off in the 2018-2019 season.

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense ended the season on a high note after putting up 42-points on the highly touted Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Despite that game being a loss, the Steelers’ offense will have high expectations surrounding it again heading into next season.

There are a lot of factors which will impact the team meeting these expectations, or falling short of the lofty goals they set for themselves. Here I will outline some of those factors:

Le’Veon Bell’s contract

I am confident in saying Le’Veon Bell will be playing for the Steelers next season, but what his contract looks like will be interesting to watch. If the team has to rely on the franchise tag for a second year in a row, I would expect another holdout from Bell until the regular season. This certainly had an impact on the team’s offensive slump early in the season. The team needs Bell to be there, and ready, for them to hit the ground running.

Randy Fitchtner’s debut as OC

Gone is Todd Haley, and in is Randy Fichtner. Fichtner and Ben Roethlisberger have a tremendous relationship, and it will be up to Fichtner to get every last ounce of potential out of an offense with some of the best playmakers in the NFL. Will Fichtner’s debut be praised, or despised? Only time will tell, but there is no doubt the pressure is on.

Vance McDonald’s future

When healthy McDonald was dynamic for the Steelers’ offense. It became clear he and Roethlisberger had a strong connection on the football field. Will the Steelers pony up the cash to keep a tight end who isn’t just a good blocker, but also brimming with potential as a down field threat? McDonald returning would help complete the team’s offense from top to bottom.

Red-Zone efficiency

Art Rooney II has stated this should be priority No. 1 for the offense this offseason, and he is spot on. The team’s red-zone successes, or failures, will ultimately dictate whether the 2018-2019 Fichtner offense is anything better than the 2017-2018 Todd Haley offense. Fichtner knows the system, and his personnel, better than anyone and should have some ideas to increase the production in the red area.

The offense returns

The Steelers’ offense will return everyone, assuming Bell and McDonald return, and this should be a huge factor in the performance of the team. JuJu Smith-Schuster isn’t an unknown commodity, Martavis Bryant started to come into his own in the last quarter of the season and Antonio Brown is the best in the NFL at his position. Throw in the offense line and Ben Roethlisberger and the offensive expectations should be larger than life.

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Will the live up to the ongoing hype? Or fall flat?