The Steelers struggles of the past few years are a by-product of their successes of the previous 5 years.
I know some of the vocal minority on this board like to assign blame all over the place but the reality is, it's difficult for top-flight NFL teams to remain "elite" for too long. When teams get really good, guess what comes next? Their good, young players have to get paid. Either by them, or someone else, but the young talent that is developed by good teams either goes elsewhere for a bigger payday or stays home.
When a team has legit, All-Pro-level talent, they have to pay them. When that happens, something's gotta give. When the Steelers paid their top-level players (as they should), the depth of the team suffers.
Look at the teams who've had the most success in the past 15 or so years. The Patriots, the Steelers, and the Giants have 7 Super Bowls between them. It's not a surprise that these teams have hit a "down cycle."
Another factor is that the NFL is a cyclical league by design. The draft itself is designed so the "lesser" teams will get better talent coming from college by picking higher in the draft. A team can't consistently pick towards the back of every round of the draft for years and expect to find top-level talent. Sure you can still find good players, but it's much more hit or miss.
Look at teams like San Francisco, Seattle, or the Redskins. They were bad for a long period of time and were able to stockpile lots of good, young talent after picking higher in the draft year after year. You add a good young QB in the mix with all of that talent and BOOM, you have a good team. But guess what happens in a few years? Russell Wilson and Kaepernick and RGIII have to get PAID! You dedicate $15-$20 Million per year to your QB and suddenly your young LB's, CB's and WR's hit the open market or have to be cut to get under the cap.
It happens to all good teams. I HATE that it's finally happening here, but it appears it is. No worries for me though. I love this team. Always will. I'll cheer just as hard for the young up and coming talent we have now as they figure out the Steeler way for themselves. Sure it's difficult after the success they've had, but I guarantee they'll be back.
I just hope the QB is still around to see it.