Success for the Steelers now means riding the sky.
Emmanuel Sanders and offensive MVP Antonio Brown figure to account for big chunks of the Steelers offense next season. Re-signing restricted free agent Mike Wallace — an exceptional deep threat — should be a top priority.
This trio represents the immediate future of the black-and-gold.
A healthy Ben Roethlisberger and offensive line will mean plenty of explosive passing plays. Sanders, Brown and Wallace have earned the right to take snaps from Hines Ward, the popular veteran who figures to sit the bench next season unless the team is bit hard by injuries.
Factor tight end Heath Miller to the mix and it's easy to see why recently retired offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was seemingly enamored by the Pittsburgh passing game.
Those who call for a sudden return to the Steelers old-school approach of "3 yards and a cloud of dust" are ignoring roster realities. Starting running back Rashard Mendenhall is still on the mend from a serious knee injury. While backup Isaac Redman appears to be a solid player, Pittsburgh still does not have adequate depth at the running back position.
More importantly, they don't have a true fullback. Arians typically employed a single-back system that emphasized airing it out.
To draft or sign an NFL-ready fullback and effectively implement a brand-new offensive philosophy within a year is both unreasonable and unnecessary. The Steelers were 10th in passing yards and 14th in rushing last season — not bad for a team with a banged-up quarterback and offensive line.
The ground game is important, but Pittsburgh's offense is most potent when its best playmakers are in space running routes and torching secondaries.
(Staff Writer Bruce Siwy can be reached at email@example.com.)