2013 Record: 8-8
Notable Losses: Emmanuel Sanders, Ryan Clark, LaMarr Woodley, Ziggy Hood, Jerricho Cotchery, Johnathan Dwyer, Larry Foote
Notable Gains: Lance Moore, LeGarrette Blount, Adam Podlesh, Mike Mitchell
Draft Class: Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt, Dri Archer, Martavis Bryant, Shaquille Richardson, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Zumwalt, Daniel McCullers, Rob Blanchflower
The Facts:The Steelers started out 2013 abysmally, going 2-6 in the first half before finishing 6-2 and barely missing the playoffs after a missed Ryan Succop field goal. However, the Steelers did make improvements. Mainly, they bought into Todd Haley's scheme, which resulted in Ben Roethlisberger getting hit less and an improved offense for Pittsburgh.
And that should carry over in 2014. The Steelers locked up Marcus Gilbert and Maurkice Pouncey in the offseason and Kelvin Beachum played well in the latter half of the season. The Steelers also upgraded their backfield by signing LeGarrette Blount and drafting speedy RB/WR Dri Archer to help out Le'Veon Bell, who was a good runner as well as an effective target in the Steelers' passing game.
The Steelers also have plenty of passing options for the Steelers with All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, veteran receiver Lance Moore, Martavis Bryant, Justin Brown, the aforementioned Archer, and the ever reliable Heath Miller.
Defensively, I don't expect Dick Lebeau to disappoint after he's been solid on defense, despite all of the new faces and young players that Pittsburgh is going to feature this season. After all, they still have plenty of their defensive stalwarts on the defense such as Troy Polamalu, Jason Worilds, William Gay, Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel. I am concerned with their secondary outside of Cortez Allen. Ike Taylor isn't getting any younger and I begin to get concerns outside of those two. Also I'm not sure about Mike Mitchell as he's been spotty over the course of his career.
Also I'm concerned about their special teams play,mainly their punting. Yes, you read that right, I am concerned about the Steelers special teams and their punting. To a team such as the Browns, special teams is an afterthought, seeing as they need to address the quarterback position before they worry about small details like special teams.
But for teams like the Steelers,who constantly aspire to add to the trophy case and have a top QB and a superior roster than the Browns, special teams is an area where more focus should go, considering that special teams miscues are part of the reason the Steelers sat at home this year.
I have punter down as the primary concern for the Steelers special teams because they've struggled with punting in the last few seasons as Pittsburgh has gone through multiple punters in the last three seasons. Fortunately for the Steelers, punters aren't too hard to find and the Steelers shouldn't have to punt much if Haley's offense succeeds.
If you disagree with my ranking and assessment remember: Unless it's something crazy,your guess is as good as mine.