After a season of passive-aggressive complaining about the new Steelers offense orchestrated by Todd Haley, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finally has progressed through the various stages of grief and arrived at acceptance.
Of course, throwing key interceptions late in back-to-back close losses may have sped the process along.
According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said Wednesday that he’s happy with the team’s offense, and that he looks forward to improving in 2013.
The Steelers’ fans look forward to that, too.
Whether there will be improvement is the big question. With receiver Mike Wallace heading toward free agency and the windfall that will go with it from a team with plenty of cap space and a strong desire for offseason sizzle, the corps of pass catchers will be worse. In turn, the running game needs to get better.
A lot better.
The Steelers need a workhorse running back — a guy who can move the chains even if the blocking is substandard, as it has been for most of the last decade. The team that had Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker and Bam Morris and Barry Foster and Franco Harris needs another stud tailback to help balance a passing game that still has the punch to deliver.
Then there’s a defense that is aging and generally not as effective as it used to be. A patchwork secondary is more likely to be exposed when the front seven can’t bring the heat like it used to, and at some point coach Mike Tomlin needs to decide whether Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 defense should become more flexible, using 4-3 concepts from time to time in order to keep the opposing offense on its toes.
Regardless, the Steelers have a long way to go to become what they were just two years ago. Having Roethlisberger finally buy in to the offense is a good start, but it’s only that: A start.