There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black-and-gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with the schedule being released and rookies reporting for the first time. It seems like the musical selection that best fits this week’s Fact or Fiction could be the 2002 hit from Jimmy Eat World, The Middle.
Here’s a sample some of those poignant lyrics
Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head, you feel left out
Or looked down on
Just try your best
Try everything you can
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves
When you’re away
It just takes some time
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right, all right
Hey, you know they’re all the same
You know you’re doing better on your own (On your own)
So don’t buy in
Live right now
Yeah, just be yourself
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough (Good enough)
For someone else
You can ponder the significance or wonder whether they are really related here. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to some cool new-millennium rock. But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a gander at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.
Are we on point? Only time will tell.
The Steelers were wronged by the league by not receiving a later bye week
Teams should not be recipients of favors or special treatment in any sports league and should all be given fair opportunities. But sometimes wrongs should be righted when teams suffer an unfair disadvantage. The Steelers have an incredibly tough schedule in the 2021 season based on a first place finish in 2020 and when the games are being played is not the issue here. The schedule is the schedule and the level of difficulty was expected. What really does matter is the placement of the Steelers’ bye, With losing bye weeks due to the COVID negligence of the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers were twice victims of circumstance and never had a week off last season and it may have hindered them in the end. It would have only been fair if the league remembered the disadvantage the Steelers received last year and gave them a later week off to make up for last year. We’ve all seen “make right” calls on the field. The league could have very easily erased the wrongs of last season by granting the Steelers a later bye than Week 7.
Having the most difficult schedule isn’t always a death knell for the Steelers
As just mentioned in our previous Fact or Fiction entry, strength of schedule can’t be avoided and really isn’t that big of a deal for the Steelers. In fact, the black and gold don’t care who they play or when they exactly engage in battle. Mike Tomlin’s team actually plays better when being listed as the underdog by the media, odds makers and the rest of the football world. They, indeed, play up and down to their competition historically in the Tomlin era. When you look at the two of the statistically toughest schedules in team history (1974 and 2008), you’ll notice that those seasons ended in Super Bowl victories for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mike Tomlin will suffer his first losing season as the Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have not had a losing season since 2003 and even though that unfortunate season allowed the Steelers to select Ben Roethlisberger, losing seasons are still a pox on the team’s history. As for Michael Pettaway Tomlin, the Steelers’ head-man has never had a losing season in 14 of them. Many pundits, though, are discounting the black and gold due to the debacle that was December of 2020. Even though the Steelers made many changes as far as coaching and personnel, the collective narrative is that the Pittsburgh pigskin franchise will be marked truant from the NFL tournament. And let’s not forget that seven teams make the postseason in each conference. The Pittsburgh pessimism continues, but the changes that Mike Tomlin in the front office have made so far seem to be an answer to the problems that lead the team to collapse late last year. I’m never counting Tomlin and his players out and I don’t believe that we as fans should live in our fears and that’s exactly what a lot of us are doing. Mike Tomlin never lives in this for years and neither does his team. Maybe we should take a page out of that book.
Steven Nelson will not return to the Steelers in 2021 or ever
I realize that bygones can be let to be just that, but Steven Nelson is definitely not ready to do so. With everything that the former Steelers cornerback and the highest-paid free agent addition in Steelers history is saying, he’s never returning to the team. The Steelers, according to Nelson, never offered a cut in pay or a reworking of a contract. They merely put him on the trade block and then proceeded to release him. As far as the team side of things, it was a business decision. Nelson, however, is taking it more personally. It’s a divorce and a parting of ways can get uglier than a prom full of Cleveland Browns fans. But seriously, the best thing for Nelson and the Steelers would be to reunite for one season and then decide with clearer heads. Nelson would solidify the secondary for another season and give the individual player an opportunity to audition for a big contract. Doing what Juju Smith-Schuster did could be more beneficial for the player. But pride can get in the way of best practice and it seems like this relationship is beyond repair.
Alex Highsmith could be the most-crucial cog in the 2021 Steelers defensive machine
The second-year player out of UNC-Charlotte was pressed into action even more after Bud Dupree went down for the remainder of the season on December 2nd last year in a Heinz Field clash against the Baltimore Ravens. The 2020 third-rounder played admirably last year, but wasn’t quite up to No. 48’s level. Mike Tomlin mentioned in his pre-draft presser that Highsmith should make a huge jump from Year One to Year Two and there’s plenty of reason to suspect that the EDGE rusher will indeed comply. If No. 56 can elevate his ganme and be as dangerous of a bookend opposite T.J. Watt that Dupree was...then the defense will continue to be a dangerous entity.
Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics, and their status, heading into this week’s game and listen for more on the player below.