It was hard to get a clear look at the Steelers this season, as injuries kept them from looking like themselves.
But team president Art Rooney II said he saw enough good things amid the injuries to feel encouraged going into 2016.
Via the Associated Press, Rooney acknowledged: “I do think the direction of the team is a positive one.”
The main reason for optimism is an offense that still put up points at a ridiculous pace, despite injuries that kept Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, and Kelvin Beachum off the field for various points, if not most of the season.
And while the defense made strides under first-year coordinator Keith Butler in terms of takeaways (a league-high 30 created), they were still 30th in the league in pass defense.
“On that front, I would say no, we’re not satisfied with where we are,” Rooney said. “[But] I’m not going to suggest that we need to do something dramatically different.”
A year ago, the dramatic changes involved farming out longtime coordinator Dick LeBeau. This offseason, they’re hoping some of last year’s draft picks (notably cornerbacks Senquez Golson and Doran Grant) are healthy enough to help fix a secondary that needs to be addressed. But the 2014 extension for Cortez Allen and last year’s trade for Brandon Boykin didn’t work as expected.
“We invested some draft picks in some players last year that we certainly hope are going to take a step forward in this coming season and be contributors,” Rooney said. “Obviously we’ve got to look at some opportunities this offseason both in terms of free agency. It’s something we have to keep working on. . . .
“We’ve made some mistakes, there’s no denying that in terms of some of the evaluations. Having said that we still have players in that group we think can improve and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Of course, if he could guarantee health, the Steelers would likely enter next season as one of the favorites.