clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

My season of lowered expectations for the 2019 Steelers still ended in disappointment

This BTSC writer continuously adjusted his expectations for the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers team beset by injuries, but somehow still ended up disappointed.

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Some say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. By that simple definition, I must be clinically insane, at least when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Every year I promise myself prior to the start of the season that I will keep my Steelers fandom in perspective. I won't allow the results of each game to affect my mindset and wellbeing throughout the week. I tell myself that I refuse to allow the outcome of a game to apparently impact me more than the players that actually played the game and suffered the defeat. They go back to their money and mansions, and life goes on. Why do so many members of Steelers Nation, myself included, allow the results of a game impact our reality? It really is crazy when you think about it. But love isn't always rational.

This year was going to be different. I had this whole Steelers fandom thing under control. After the exodus of their most dominant skill position player, and a slew of new faces in new places, I went into the season with lowered expectations. I expected some difficulties maneuvering through a stacked early season schedule, especially considering the need to develop chemistry with all the youthful additions, but then the unthinkable happened. Down goes Big Ben, and any Super Bowl aspirations with him.

Immediately I adjusted my expectations yet again. I actually felt like a weight had been lifted. Instead of having the bar set far too high in my mind, I didn't even have a bar set at all. I only wanted to see the Steelers compete each week to the best of their abilities, for all the young talent to show improvement as the season progressed, and develop team chemistry with the veteran players along the way. Even through the early defeats, I was pleased with the overall effort and development. I was in a surprisingly good place.

Sure, the turnovers and missed opportunities that directly lead to some of those close losses were tough to stomach. The pass interference challenge actually won by Pete Carroll, one of the precious few successful challenges this season, contributed greatly to the Seahawks victory. A phantom roughing the passer penalty on Adeniyi for a clean hit on Lamar Jackson resulted in overtime, where JuJu's fumble proved costly. James Conner's late fumble against the Niners deep in their own territory cost the Steelers a shot at an upset. Three missed opportunities against eventual double digit win teams. Pretty sure that would come back to haunt the Steelers, but I was still taking it all in stride.

Suddenly the Steelers defense hit their stride and started to display dominant tendencies, the schedule lightened up with some talent deficient opponents, and the Steelers won seven out of eight games in the middle of the season. Again I took the success in stride, realizing the quality of the opponents was playing a huge role in the streak. The total ineptitude of the offense was a constant reminder to temper any expectations, but somehow I got sucked back in.

Sitting at 8-5; with a turnover causing, sack machine of a defense, and a presumably favorable schedule, I started to believe the playoffs was a possibility. I held no delusions about a deep playoff run, but I wanted to see the season extended and the youngsters get the valuable experience. Then my loving wife gave me a early Christmas gift, and jinxed the Steelers.

On the Saturday before the Buffalo Bills game, my wife handed me a new Duck Hodges tee shirt she got me for Christmas. I personally wouldn't have purchased any Duck merchandise till he had ample opportunities to prove himself, but I appreciated the gesture. Admittedly, I was concerned about a possible jinx. That Duck would go down in a blaze of glory, and the shirt would be nothing more than a novelty item. Turns out my concerns were warranted.

Somehow, even with my lowered expectations, I still ended up disappointed with the conclusion of the season. It turns out, no matter how good my intentions, I just can't help myself when it comes to the Steelers. No matter my mindset, my heart is always all in.

I have come to realize a few undeniable truths about my Steelers fandom. I hate losing even more than I love winning. The fact that the last few Steelers teams have been so one dimensional has greatly impacted my ability to enjoy the season. I thought the past few seasons of superior offense/average defense was bad, but this season of dominating defense/no offense was worse.

Even with the defensive struggles of recent seasons, I always believed the Steelers had a chance because of their superior offense. This season's offensive inadequacies quickly resulted in a loss of faith whenever the team faced the slightest deficit. If the defense couldn't create a turnover, resulting in a shorter field, the Steelers struggled to score. As much as I appreciated the outstanding defense, the final few games this season was the most frustrating football I can remember.

Get well soon, Big Ben Roethlisberger! Steelers Nation is rooting for your healthy return in a big way.

Turns out I maybe a dreamer, but at least I ain't the only one.