I am much more optimistic than most about the Steelers season, I have them going 14-2, and I truly believe that they will win the Super Bowl this year.
Obviously, there are a lot of factors that go into a team going all the way, and here are the things the Steelers need to do to have a great season.
Most of these are pretty obvious, and the most obvious to me is that the Steelers need to protect Ben Roethlisberger.
Regardless of what anyone else says, Ben is the best quarterback in the league and is even more lethal when he doesn’t have the entire defense hanging on his back while he’s throwing.
I fully expect the offensive line, despite the injury to David DeCastro, to be improved and the Steelers offense to go off this season.
The Steelers offense has a knack for bogging down and settling for way too many field goals during the season.
That is a problem when you go up against the better teams in the league, and considering that Shaun Suisham is not the most reliable kicker in the NFL.
The offense needs to do a better job in 2012 of actually getting the ball past the goal line for touchdowns instead of leaving it to the unsure Suisham.
Alright, I know that there really isn’t anything the Steelers can do to avoid injuries, but they really can’t afford any more.
The positions hit hardest at this point have been the offensive line with David DeCastro and linebacker with James Harrison, Jason Worilds, Stevenson Sylvester, Sean Spence and now Larry Foote.
As my previous slide said, the offensive line needs to stay together and protect Ben while the defense is going to really rely on Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley to step up as the only healthy linebackers at this point.
The Steelers have one of the fastest groups of receivers with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and now Chris Rainey.
Using that speed, I see the Steelers offense producing a lot of big plays either through deep balls or gadget plays.
On the defensive side of the ball, they need to contain opposing offenses and not allow a play like what happened in Denver in the playoffs to happen.
In 2011, the Steelers’ defense was one of the worst in the league at forcing turnovers, and I think that changes this season.
Obviously, the turnover battle is a big component to every game, and the fact that the Steelers struggled in that aspect last season was really surprising.
The NFL has turned into a passing league and with Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are never out of a game.
That being said, it would help if the Steelers had any kind of rushing attack from the committee of Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall, Baron Batch and Chris Rainey.
The team doesn’t necessarily need a 200-yard rushing day in every game, however, they need to be better in short yardage situations and in just keeping the defense honest.