You know the one. It was never the prettiest ride on the block, but it always got the job done. And even when it started falling apart you didn't want to admit it. So you tried to fix it or took it in for more repairs than it was worth, hoping against hope that it would be the sweet ride once again that never failed you. But you really knew deep down that over the years too many essential parts had been either worn down or discarded, and that its glory days were over. And you got that sick feeling that you were soon going to have to part with "old faithful" and find another way...
It's kind of the way I'm starting to think of the Steeler "D." For over a decade it has "firing on all cylinders," tuned to near perfection by that trusty ol' mechanic--Dick LeBeau. But now you lose some essential parts: Aaron Smith, some crucial spares: Chris Hoke, and other parts: Harrison, Polamalu, Hampton, have been maybe just a little too beat up....to the point that they may never be what they once were. And try as he may, the mechanic can only work with what's under the hood(Ziggy?).
I hope I am wrong and the Steeler "D" has a stellar year. Last minute heroics aside, this is the "D" that has given us two SB Championships this century. It wasn't the Bruce Arians 22 ppg. offense.
But today's offense has the potential to score at a much higher average. Under Haley I expect the Steelers to be in the top third of the NFL in terms of points-per-game scored (not the bottom third as we were last year).
The historically stingy Steeler "D," however, is another question. I don't see our defensive line being capable of shutting down opponents' run game, as we have in past years. And if giving up 34 points to a Carson Palmer-led offense is any indication of our ability to limit scoring, it may be a season where Steeler fans need to become accustomed to shoot-outs. That will be a major departure from past years.