Let me stipulate right off the bat, that I don't have an answer to the questions I am putting forth in this article. So, please don't think that I am saying I know the direction that the Steelers should go in. My initial point is, however, that the aforementioned direction seems to be, for the first time in recent memory, not so clear cut.

Under both Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, the Steelers have consistently won, and they have won ugly. I define winning ugly as having a strong defense, a clock-killing run game, and a efficient run game. The mantra has been to keep the game close and find a way to win in the 4th quarter. The Steelers have dominated games, and ended up winning by 10 points.

While the Steelers may have perfected winning ugly in 2008, the wins have gotten uglier since.

2012 brought these issues to the forefront. During the 2012 football season, the Steelers lacked big plays. Offense, defense and special teams were all lacking. Neal has done a great job pointing out that while the defense took its annual place atop many of the defensive categories, their inability to create turnovers (or even negative plays) led to a less than stellar season on that side of the ball.

Offensively, we had to fight, scratch and claw for everything we got. When we would get a big completion down the field, inconceivably, the receiver would drop the ball. The running game? Forget it. Whereas the Ravens might have have the "heave and pray" offense, we were just praying. Praying that the flag on the field was not a holding penalty. Praying that Ben would not get killed on 3rd and long. Praying that the running back would not fumble. Simply, if anything went bad on offense (a negative play) we could not overcome it. Moreover, we were not consistently good enough to drive the ball down the field on people. Somewhere, somebody would make a mistake, and the resulting 3rd and 10 or 2 and 15 was too much to overcome.