With the abrupt end to their run at the Super Bowl by Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, the Pittsburgh Steelers are beginning an offseason filled with questions about the future.
With a 12-4 season, one that could be debated due to the low strength of schedule, many of the team's problems came front and center, especially with the offensive line. The Steelers could not catch a break, especially with center Maurkice Pouncey, who suffered an ankle injury back in the 2010 AFC Championship that kept him out of the postseason and Super Bowl, and re-injured it in week 14 against Cleveland and kept him out of the lineup. There was constant change in the depth chart for Pittsburgh's offensive line due to injury. It even lead to bringing back Max Starks in Week 5 against the Titans. Pittsburgh has been able to get by with a lack of an efficient line, but it will be something they really need to tackle for 2012. A healthy Pouncey is a good start. Marcus Gilbert played well in his rookie year. He could be a consistent offensive tackle for the future.
For the wide receivers, Hines Ward is a name of interest. It's obvious that his numbers are down from last year and his contribution in the offense was small. Ward is promised a bonus in March. The Steelers may cut ties with the veteran revceiver, because all indications show that Ward is not retiring anytime soon. They should consider their other receivers like team MVP Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace who have taken a hold of the top of the depth chart, who could see an extension in their contracts and more money.
The front three of the Steelers defensive line may need to see some changes. The Denver game saw all three starters go down with injuries. While age has been a topic of interest with this Steeler defense, it's time for Pittsburgh to start investing more in Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward on the front line. Perhaps the Steelers look at moving Hood to nosetackle if Keisel is still a person of interest for the defense. James Farrior is the older of the linebackers on the defense. Maybe its time Steven Sylvester, who is right behind Farrior on the depth chart, to see more action next season? The defensive backfield has improved over the years, but Ike Taylor's performance against Denver would make anyone want to throw him overboard. Taylor had a great year, but played the worse game of his life at the wrong time.
For the coaching staff, the worse Steeler Nation has seen in Mike Tomlin's short time in Pittsburgh. Tomlin gambled with Ben Roethlisberger, who played with a high ankle sprain against San Fransisco and then in the final week against Cleveland. Many would argue that Roethlisberger should've been sidelined in the season finale, but Baltimore's inability to wrap up the division kept Pittsburgh with a small chance to steal it. In the end, Tomlin's gamble failed.
A large overhaul isn't needed, but past issues need to be addressed if the Steelers want to stay up as a competitive team. Another year of not addressing big issues like the offensive line will lead to more problems in 2013.