After coming off of a bipolar year last season, the Steelers enter the coming season of 2008 with 10 questions that have to be answered. Some of them are pressing, and some of them, not so much.
Either way, the people demand answers.
I come to you to ask that which needs to be asked and fish for answers that may not come about for months.
10.) Will Ben continue to improve?
After a career year, throwing 32 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, with a passer rating of 104.1, and over 3,000 yards thrown, has Big Ben peaked? He's 26-years old, and usually in athletics, this is the peak age, physically.
However, for a scrambling quarterback that takes a lot of abuse, the question hangs if he's aged anymore. Is he peaking right now, or is he still away from the ceiling?
9.) How much gas does Hines Ward have left in the tank?
He plays a physical game, and as I said with Ben, that takes a toll. He's 32-years old, his games played, yards a season, and receptions have declined in the past three seasons. This could be attributed to a bad season and then the emergence of Santonio Holmes, but Hines was generally still the go-to guy. Is he nearing his end, especially with the arrival of "tall receiver" Limas Sweed?
8.) Heinz Field: benefit or burden?
Will we see another season of terrible field play on the hallowed play area of Western PA's holy ground? Will the terrible rains continue to drown the greater Pittsburgh area into late fall, causing another snooze fest and media embarrassment that was the Sunday-night game against the Dolphins?
7.) Will Troy Polamalu stay healthy?
Since the magical 2005 season, Troy has gone from playing in all 16 games to 13 games and now 11 games. When he's out, the defense does not play the same. When he's out, the hard-hitting legends of Pittsburgh look softer than the Penguins' pre-Therrien blueline. Troy needs to stay healthy. Can he?
6.) Are the Browns really a threat?
The Cleveland Browns came out of nowhere with a high-powered offense, behind the arm of the season's starting backup, Derek Anderson. Is this team for real? Have the moves that the Browns made on defense really helped, and will Anderson and company keep their rhythm going? Or are they just a one-year wonder like the "Who Dey?" Bengals of 2005?
Click here to view part two, questions five through one.