The Steelers are once again facing the uncomfortable prospect of missing out on the playoffs. Worse yet, Pittsburgh is dead last in a relatively weak division.
Defensively, the Steelers are showing serious age. While there’s some young talent on the field, much more is needed to avoid embarrassing losses like the one the Steelers suffered to the Patriots on Sunday.
On offense, the Steelers’ outlook is somewhat brighter, but an offensive line must be at the top of the team’s wish list heading into the offseason. Ben Roethlisberger may have plenty of weapons to work with, but if he doesn’t have time to throw the ball, the Steelers won’t be winning any games.
Verdict: The Steelers are in for a major re-tooling effort, but they’re not too far gone to save with a couple of solid drafts. In addition, the coaching staff still has the support of ownership, ensuring the re-tooling effort won’t be done by a new regime.
The Texans are in dire straits after the collapse of head coach Gary Kubiak, who also handles offensive play calling duties. Now, with the playoffs firmly out of reach, the Texans have a few key decisions to make, especially offensively.
First and foremost, the Texans have to decide whether they need to move Matt Schaub or whether he deserves another shot. If Case Keenum continues to play well, Schaub will likely be cut this offseason. If, however, Keenum’s play falls back to earth, it may be time for the Texans to think about drafting a replacement.
Verdict: The Texans’ biggest problem appears to be at the quarterback position. The team is still stacked with solid talent. Unfortunately, the Texans may be forced to re-tool the roster with a rebuilt coaching staff following this disappointing season.
New York Giants
The Giants, unlike some other teams on this list, have looked outmatched by nearly every team they’ve played. The playoffs are still a possibility due to the state of the NFC East, but even so, this team is lacking youthful talent, and that’s a major problem.
As with the Steelers and Texans, there’s plenty of room for improvement, but the biggest issues have been self-inflicted wounds. In games where Eli Manning cleans up his act, the Giants stand a fair chance at winning.
Verdict: Because the Giants still feature a top-notch quarterback (we think) and a top notch head coach, there’s no reason to blow up the roster just yet. Like the Steelers, a couple of consecutive drafts bringing in solid new talent would do wonders for the Giants. For that reason, the Giants need to re-tool, not rebuild.
The Atlanta Falcons are in a world of pain, going from a Super Bowl contender to one of the worst teams in the league in a very short period of time.
Atlanta has some weapons on offense that will serve the team well in its rebuild, but make no mistake about it, this is a team in serious need of a facelift. Matt Ryan and the passing game may be okay, but the systemic issues preventing the Falcons from winning games are very real, and they need to be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
Verdict: The Falcons could be saved with a big re-tooling effort, but honestly, it’s far easier to simply rebuild the roster from the ground up. Mike Smith and his coaching staff may be canned at the conclusion of the season, paving the way for a brand new ear in Atlanta. Because Matt Ryan is a talented quarterback, a rebuilding effort may not take all that long anyway.