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Browns vs. Steelers: Uncertainty surrounds Steelers heading into Week 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers should be an exciting team to watch in 2014. A dynamic offense with a lightning-quick defense to boot, but with that excitement comes a great deal of uncertainty heading into week 1.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The dreaded preseason has finally come to its conclusion and the games that count have finally arrived. As Pittsburgh Steelers fans prepare for the Cleveland Browns to come to Heinz Field on Sunday, most are wondering what to expect from this Steelers team in 2014. Filled with great potential, the team's most common feature is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding several aspects of this team.

The Steelers' offense could be as dynamic as Ben Roethlisberger has seen entering his 11th year in the NFL. Finally given the keys to the car, Roethlisberger looks primed to lead this offense to high point totals and a fast-paced attack with the no-huddle offense.

But is this unit built for such an attack? The Steelers will rely heavily on second-year wideout, Markus Wheaton, to solidify the spot opposite Pro Bowler Antonio Brown. Wheaton's production, or lack thereof, ultimately will be a gauge of the Steelers' offensive success.

The wide receiver position is fraught with uncertainty given aging veteran Lance Moore in the slot, inconsistent Darrius Heyward-Bey as depth and the unproven Justin Brown and Wheaton. That corps of wide-outs certainly has fans concerned heading into the first week of the regular season, when the kind of blunders and miscommunication on display in the third preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles can lead, not only to headaches, but to losses.

The defensive side of the football is younger and faster than any Steelers team during Mike Tomlin's tenure, but with that youth and speed comes a tremendous amount of inexperience. Players like Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt are going to make their splash plays, but will they also make the routine plays that enable the overall defense to function? That's the ultimate question.

Second-year outside linebacker Jarvis Jones has shown steps in the right direction in terms of improvement, but he has also showed the inability to make standard plays that must be made by the outside linebacker in Dick LeBeau's 3-4 scheme.

The Steelers defense used to be built around stopping the run. Forcing teams to beat them by putting the ball in the air is something not seen in Pittsburgh for years now. Nowadays, teams have a green light to run all over the Steelers' defense, especially in the two-down nickel package, and that could be the biggest cause of uncertainty surrounding the defense.

This Steelers team will be exciting to watch as it has been built on the premises of speed and athleticism. There is a natural uncertainty that accompanies those features, but it's uncertainty that only the players on the field can allay within fans by proving to be solid and consistent performers. The Cleveland Browns most certainly will be a good, early test for this team as they kick off the 2014 season this Sunday.