Dunlap: How Far Away Are The Steelers?

After watching Super Bowl you wonder about Steelers future

Colin Dunlap
February 04, 2019 - 1:53 pm

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl was just plain awful. Actually, check that --- that's the knee jerk reaction from everyone. It wasn't a great football game, but it was the Super Bowl, so I can't say it was the worst thing ever. The pomp, circumstance and pageantry of the game had me riveted and captivated from the beginning right down until the final gun when the New England Patriots were able to pull off that 13-3 victory against the Los Angeles Rams. I'll never not like the Super Bowl because, well, it's the Super Bowl. 

But at the very end, it was the Patriots. Yep, the Patriots. Those Patriots again. Can't seem to get away from the Patriots. When they seem to be counted out (and just ask them) they find a way to slink back to the top. As it is, Tom Brady isn't going anywhere and as you know, they appear to always pull a receiver or two out of Bill Belichick's magic hat. They always find some running back and their offensive line has played steady enough. Does it really matter if Rob Gronkowski is retiring or not because, well, you know, Brady is coming back. On top of that they showed a suddenly brutish defense and, there you go --- another title. 

So it got me to thinking as I watched football this season and, particularly the past month or so: Where do the Pittsburgh Steelers fit in all of this moving forward? 

How will they fare? 

Is their window slamming shut? 

Are other teams grabbing the Steelers' window and helping close it for them. 

Man, this is all a lot to digest one day after the season, isn't it? But, of course, our eyes are already set on next year. As it were, we have already touched on the Patriots and, as it is, as long as Brady and Belichick are around they have a better than decent chance of advancing to the Super Bowl. That's one big roadblock in front of the Steelers --- no matter if Ben Roethlisberger is part of this team or not. Also it doesn't matter the future of Antonio Brown or how much JuJu progresses ... as long as Brady is around and Belichick coaching him, it just feels like the Pats will have the upper hand. 

But they aren't the lone impediment. 

I am sure you watched --- like I did --- the growth of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes this season. His rocket right arm coupled with the magical way with which he is able to escape situations where it looks like he surely is about to take a big loss is mesmerizing. I don't know about you, but I'm certainly not one to bet against Mahomes as he gathers more experience in big games. 

Also, isn't it fair to think the Chargers serve as a rather large hurdle for the Steelers in the AFC as long as Philip Rivers is their quarterback? I think they have suddenly hit a resurgence and, make no mistake, Anthony Lynn is the kind of head coach on the offensive side of the ball that can cause the ever-changing Steelers defense confusion. 

How about the Indianapolis Colts? Now that Andrew Luck is healthy again --- and who knows what they will do in free agency with a ton of cap room --- they might become the darlings of the AFC. 

I struggle to even type these words ... but the Browns might also be, um, good. 

So there's all that. There is a Steelers team that was (and probably still will be next season) laden with talent. But after watching the playoffs this season and digesting all that went on, it really is fair to wonder if they will get to the Super Bowl again in the Ben era. And it has just as much to do with their deficiencies as it does with those around them being good and getting better.