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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Steelers to bounce back?

By Jamison Hensley

ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Herm Edwards named five teams that should back back in 2013. It's an Insider post, but I can let you know that the Steelers ranked second on Edwards' list:

This one is obvious to me, as Pittsburgh is simply too strong an organization to miss the playoffs for two straight seasons. The Steelers do a terrific job drafting to their system and Mike Tomlin is an excellent coach. With a year under his belt in Todd Haley's offensive system, Ben Roethlisberger will be much more effective next season. The concerns on defense, as they seem to be every season, are whether this team is too old and whether Troy Polamalu can stay healthy. I think Pittsburgh will find a way to get it done next season.

When I hear the question "Can the Steelers bounce back," my response is "Can the Steelers keep Ben Roethlisberger healthy." Roethlisberger is the most valuable player in the AFC North, because the Steelers will fall short of expectations if he's not healthy. The past two seasons have been derailed by Roethlisberger injuries.

In order for the Steelers to bounce back, it will depend on the pass protection from what will likely be a revamped offensive line. Marcus Gilbert might take over for Max Starks at left tackle, two second-year players (guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams) will have to hold down the right side. The growth of the offensive line will be a major factor in whether the Steelers can return to the playoffs.