The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers are doing their best to create the image they are not the typical Steelers team. Several big “personalities” are no longer in the locker room and camaraderie seems to be the point of emphasis. Analysts are doubting them, and the team wants nothing more than to fly under the radar.
But if this team isn’t wanting to be the typical Steelers team, then are there things we fans associate with the Steelers which would not be safe to assume in 2019? Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we will look at several Steeler trends from recent years, both positive and negative, and see if the expectations should change based on evolving attitudes and philosophies.
One thing the 2018 season told us was the Steelers troubles when traveling to the Mountain or Pacific Time Zones are still a factor to be considered. Favored to win in both Denver and Oakland, the Steelers suffered to close losses which ended their 2018 season before the important games in January got underway. There were plenty of circumstances that led to these losses such as injuries, turnovers, kicks, and untimely timeouts. But removing the excuses, the Steelers were 0-2 in 2018 when traveling far beyond the Mississippi River.
In his NFL career, Ben Roethlisberger is 1-7 in the Pacific Time Zone with his only victory coming in 2005 in San Diego where professional football is no longer played. Mike Tomlin is 1-5 as a head coach on the West Coast, with his lone victory coming in San Diego with Michael Vick quarterbacking the Steelers. So a Mike Tomlin coached Pittsburgh Steelers team has never won in the Pacific Time Zone with Ben Roethlisberger under center.
As for the Mountain Time Zone, which includes Arizona and Denver, Rothlisberger is 3-6. The only game without Mike Tomlin as coach was a 2005 victory in Denver. So Ben Roethlisberger is 2-11 (.154) under Coach Tomlin in games played in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones combined with the last win coming in 2011 in Arizona.
For 2019, the Steelers have three games out west with two in the Pacific Time Zone (San Francisco and Los Angeles Chargers) and one in the Mountain (Arizona). It won’t take long to see if these Steelers are different when they travel to San Francisco in Week 3. Currently this game has an even betting line, so it is not beyond the realm of possibility of the Steelers to go into San Francisco and get the win.
It’s also not like the Steelers are known to have a terrible record on the road. Even as recently as 2017 they had a better record away from Heinz Field as they did at home. So if this team is going to break some of the recent history associated with the Steelers, getting an early win on the West Coast could go a long way.
Can the 2019 Steelers shake off their West Coast problems and get a victory for the first time in eight seasons? Or will the team struggle with such a drastic change to their routine? Personally, I think the game in San Francisco will be one to help set the tone for the season. If the Steelers can show early on that the things of the past are not going to dictate the success of this 2019 “band of brothers,” it would not be a stretch for this team to win two or even three games out west.