Coming into last season, the Steelers knew they would be without their $100 million quarterback for the first four games. In Roethlisberger's absence, the Steelers went 3-1 but the offense, particularly the passing game, was ranked towards the bottom of the league as expected. When Big Ben returned, the offense picked up and eventually finished in the middle of the league in yardage and points. Considering the Steelers were in the process of developing two rookie wide receivers and a rookie center, inconsistencies were to be expected.
Now, with a healthy quarterback who is expected to play in all sixteen games, a third year wide receiver in Mike Wallace who is one of the fastest players in the league, veterans Jerricho Cotchery and Hines Ward, second year players Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, and Heath Miller, the Steelers have all the weapons in place to put up big passing numbers. Antonio Brown, part of the explosive "Young Money Family" receiving core, is looking like he may have a breakout sophomore season as he has been the offensive spark plug during preseason. A solid number 2 receiver on some teams, Brown will probably play in the slot on passing situations. His speed can be a deadly factor against other team's third/fourth defensive backs.
Oh yeah, they have Rashard Mendenhall too.
Mendenhall has looked extremely sharp this preseason. While his numbers may not be too impressive, Mendenhall looks quicker and more agile than what we've seen in the past. It's conceivable to believe he will pass 1200 yards again this season. More importantly, he turns a passing offense into a balanced attack. Typically a "grind it out" team over the decades, today's Steelers are more balanced. However, Rashard Mendenhall combined with Ike Redman, can give you that "grind it out" aspect when trying to secure a win.
The league is more pass oriented nowadays, the Steelers have all the pieces in place to be one of the best passing offenses in the league. In 2009, Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for over 4000 yards in a season. In the same vein, he was sacked 50 times, a career high. While the offensive line is projected to, once again, be the weak link, it is doubtful they will be nearly as bad as they were in 2009 allowing Roethlisberger more time to make plays.
The vaunted defense will still get the majority of airtime on ESPN, FOX and CBS, however look for the offense to pick up the slack, what little there is, if the team goes into a shootout. Considering their schedule includes playing New England, Indianapolis and Houston, the Steelers may look more like the Pittsburgh Power playing against the Iowa Barnstormers.
In the end, all that matters for Steelers fans is wins. With the fourth easiest schedule, Pittsburgh will have a multitude of chances to put up W's, although this was an eerily similar thought in 2009 when the team finished 9-7. Still, with an offense as balanced, talented, and fast as the Steelers, it shouldn't be a surprise if they finish among the best in the league in yards and points. And at 29, maybe Ben Roethlisberger will have another trophy in his cabinet. An individual award stating three small letters that could push his career into certain Hall of Fame status.
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