The single most significant message the Steelers could possibly take from back-to-back 8-8 seasons is that something's got to change.
And if the goal for 2014 isn't just to beat mediocrity but to be markedly better, it stands to reason that something's got to change a whole heck of a lot.
In all candor, I don't know if this team can contend. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons remain steady anchors, a sprinkling of youth and speed has been added, the offensive line is healthy -- where's that wood again? -- and the AFC North looks pretty blah from top to bottom. At the same time, the preseason tackling was terrifying, the secondary was almost as scary, there's zero depth at the most important position, there's no sure-fire second receiver, and both running backs just proved to be dopes in every sense of the term.
Add up a bunch of good and a bunch of bad, and I'll show you 8-8 Part III.
Someone needs to step up.
Someone needs to make a difference, maybe even be different.
Here are my choices for 'X' factor on both sides of the ball for 2014: