With a season-ending injury to starting QB Ben Roethlisberger coming in Week 2 of the 2019 campaign, the Pittsburgh Steelers started this season way behind the eight ball. Yet somehow, this team managed to scrap its way to an 8-8 record despite starting a quarterback with the preferred name "Duck".
With an injury-riddled team, coach Mike Tomlin nearly pulled off the impossible, finishing just one win away from a sixth seed in the AFC playoffs. If the Steelers hope to sustain this success in 2020, here are some key moves that they must make.
3. Give Ben Roethlisberger the Help He Deserves
After seeing the often-ineffective performances of Devlin "Duck" Hodges and Mason Rudolph in the wake of Big Ben's injury, Pittsburgh will need to re-tool some aspects of the offense in order to give the soon-to-be 38 year old Roethlisberger the help he deserves next season. While the team's offensive line played decently well in 2019, their pass-catchers left a lot to be desired. With JuJu Smith-Schuster dealing with numerous ailments throughout the season, Diontae Johnson and James Washington were forced to do a lot of heavy lifting in the offense. Adding an established veteran to this receiving corps (Emmanuel Sanders reunion anyone?) could really kick this offense into another gear next season.
2. Find a Durable Starting RB
James Conner led the team in rushing this past season with 464 yards. That is not the stat line of a RB1 for a true contender. While the team should keep Conner around (until his deal runs out), exploring the market for a more dynamic option at the position would not be a bad idea. With former Steeler great Le'Veon Bell reportedly on the chopping block in New York, a reunion could make a lot of sense for both sides.
1. Keep the Defense Intact
With pass-rushing specialist Bud Dupree (11.5 sacks in 2019) and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (83.4 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, a near-elite score for his position) hitting free agency, the Steelers must spend to retain their key contributors on defense. Without their powerful defensive unit, Pittsburgh may very well have been among the worst teams in the league last season.
If Pittsburgh can pull off these three moves, they could very well be a sneaky Super Bowl contender in 2020.