The Pittsburgh Steelers bounced back from a bad 2006 with a playoff berth and an AFC North Division title in 2007. Their loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs would end their season, but the very fact that the Steelers were even in a situation where they had to play the Jaguars in the first round was something that should have never happened to them.
But it did. That was due in large part to the fact that the Steelers lost the edge they had earlier in the season. They suffered losses to the New York Jets and the New England Patriots in a fashion that should have never happened to a team that talented.
So what do they have to address to better help them address those pivotal losses in 2008?
First of all, Willie Parker needs to get healthy. There is not much the Steelers can do to make sure that happens other than give him the best medical treatment available. But it is obvious that the Steelers lost some of their edge when their running back, and NFL’s leading rusher at the time, when down for the rest of the football season in December.
Secondly, the Steelers do need to work on their passing game a little more. But let me first say that the development of Ben Roethlisberger has been tremendous. He had the second highest passer rating in the league and threw for 3,154 yards and 32 touchdowns. Therefore, anybody who says that Big Ben just manages the game is absolutely wrong. Sure, he is no Peyton Manning or Carson Palmer…yet. But he could be.
As far as the Steelers passing game goes, I think Big Ben was right when he said the Steelers could use a big target in the red zone. I know Hines Ward was upset about those sentiments, but having a guy that does effectively create a mismatch on the fade route touchdown throw can successfully create more holes in the end zone throughout the rest of the field if the opposing team elects to double-team him. So the Steelers should go out and get a big target, maybe from the draft, so that maybe Big Ben’s touchdown passes can go up to 40 in 2008.
The Steelers don’t need to address much on their defense. Afterall, they finished first in total yards allowed, and 2nd in points allowed. However, in a league where the New England Patriots are the best offensive unit ever assembled, and when you consider that they effectively dismantled the Steelers defense in 2007, the Steelers do need to upgrade if their goal is to win a Superbowl. Their weakest position is in the secondary, where they have questionable cover corners and lack pass coverage skills at the free safety position. The Steelers should make a play on free agent Drayton Florence to come play corner for them. Also, Ken Hamlin is available at the free safety position. If the Steelers get can get at least one of them, and perhaps draft a 1st round talent at the remaining position, they will certainly have a chance at competing with the Patriots in 2008.