1. Yes, it's just a preseason game, but what will you be looking for from the Pittsburgh Steelers? What will be a "success" or a "failure" against the Jacksonville Jaguars?
This will be the first real game action the Steelers starters will see this preseason, but a success for this team will be any improvement from the rookies and younger players coming off a pretty poor performance in the Hall of Fame Game against the Vikings. Players like Bud Dupree, Sammie Coates and Jesse James are players who will certainly be looking to step up their game as their next opportunity approaches on Friday night.
Failure for this team would be suffering another injury similar to the one suffered by kicker Shaun Suisham last Sunday. Simply put, don't get hurt.
2. Will Ben Roethlisberger play? How long do you give the starters on Friday night?
Head coach Mike Tomlin stated Roethlisberger will play anywhere from 10-12 snaps in this game, and history shows it depends on how the first unit plays. If Roethlisberger comes out and leads the team to several first downs and drives down the field, his day is done. If the team goes three and out, you might see Roethlisberger come out for a second drive in the first quarter.
Don't expect to see Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown or Le'Veon Bell very long. Those are players the team can't afford to lose, especially in a meaningless preseason game.
3. Shaun Suisham looks to have torn his ACL in Sunday's game against the Vikings. Do the Steelers have any backup kickers on their roster? Who do you think they'll sign as a replacement?
The Steelers gambled with their 90-man roster by having Suisham be the only kicker on the roster. When he went down they held a try-out at Heinz Field and former Saints and Browns kicker Garrett Hartley won the place kicking duties for at least the remainder of the preseason. Depending on how Hartley does in the preseason, I wouldn't be shocked to see the team look at kickers who might be getting released from other teams as cut down days loom large.
4. You've used your top two picks in both of the last two drafts on defensive playmakers. Do you think the Steelers have the core they need to get back to a top-tier defense, or are they still a couple of players away?
Top-tier defense might be a stretch with this group, but they are improving. They don't have the marquee names they used to with Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior and Brett Keisel. However, they are fast and extremely athletic. The defense will have a new look to it, not just because of the players in the lineup, but also because of the coach making the calls.
Gone is long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and promoted was linebackers coach Keith Butler to the coordinator role. This defense could be a top-10 unit if they can pressure the quarterback to cover up deficiencies in the secondary, but they are still a few years away from really making noise.
5. Does the Steelers' success in 2015 depend more on Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game, or Le'Veon Bell and the running game?
The Steelers success depends on the offense, and the offense works best when they have balance. When the team is able to run the ball with Bell and still throw, they are unstoppable. The offense this team will deploy in 2015 might be the best in franchise history with the playmakers across the board.
It will be fun to watch defenses try to stop Bell running the ball, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Heath Miller and Bell catching the ball out of the backfield. Those are a lot of weapons at Todd Haley's disposal, and if they can remain balanced it will become a "pick your poison" type unit where a defense will have to sell out to stop one facet, only to be burned by the other.