If the Steelers are going to make it back to the top of the AFC North in 2007, there are more than a few areas that they are going to have to improve on. With an 8-8 record a season ago, the team ended the season on an up swing, winning 6 of their last 8. Nevertheless, with a new coach, new players, and a new system, things are going to have to get better this season, or the team is going to sit 2nd or 3rd in the tough AFC North. Here are three quick things they have to do better, MUCH better, in 2007.
1. Turn the ball over less: Last season was so frustrating, as the Steelers were in game after game, only to give it away with stupid turnovers. From int’s, to fumbles, the team seemed to find everyway to give the ball over to their opponents. They were -8 in the turnover ratio, and that was tied for 27th worst in the league. Simply holding onto the ball and throwing less picks will make 2007 a lot better. Another quick factor here to watch is the fact not only of the picks, but the ones that were returned for scores. That also was a killer last year.
2. Protect Big Ben: The O-line struggled in this department last year, and if Ben is going to find recievers and stay healthy, the O-line has to do a better job of this in 2007. If it means having to roll Ben out more, do it. He actually throws the ball well when he is on the run. The bottom line here is that the line has to give him 4-5 seconds to throw, as last year he was beat up by December. The team allowed 49 sacks in 2006, a number they have to decrease by 10-15 in 2007.
3. Play better against the jump ball: This became a joke during some games, as wide outs would simply go up, and no matter who was covering them, they would find a way to come down with the ball. This trend was never more frustrating than the Denver loss, when Javon Walker basically beat the Steelers on his own with a few jump ball catches over Ike Taylor. I don’t know what the team can do here but time the ball better, but they had better work on this a lot in camp this season.
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