On paper, Pittsburgh appears to be less talented than both the Ravens and Browns.
Heck, Adam Schein, the media personality that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will probably stuff into a locker the moment social distancing becomes a thing of the past, is even predicting Pittsburgh will win fewer games than the Bengals in 2021.
Speaking of reporters and their opinions of Roethlisberger, you can’t find a quarterback ranking where he’s expected to be anything but average this year.
What can you do? Even the fan base seems less confident than in most years, and some have become really adept at quickly turning a fluff piece about jersey numbers into a 200-comment brawl, pitting the naysayers against the forever pollyannish.
It is what it is. The Steelers aren’t expected to be good this year. They weren’t expected to be good last year.
They probably won’t be expected to be good next year, Big Ben or no Big Ben.
The great thing about now, though, is it’s early June. That means fans only have to endure about six more weeks of predictions, ones that will likely be deemed disrespectful to the black and gold. After that, training camp begins, and then it’s all about finding the answers to the questions. Once training camp bleeds into the preseason, fans and the media will get to witness some of the answers to these questions. Will they like them? It will probably be a mix of what we’ve been seeing this offseason; some fans will be excited, while others will throw a bucket of cold water all over anything positive. As for the media, specifically the national media, I’m sure it won’t be blown away by anything Pittsburgh does this summer. After all, the Ravens, Browns and even the Bengals will be conducting training camps and playing in preseason games, too.
But opinions won’t matter when the season starts. The result will be the only thing that is worth a darn, once the first whistle blows on September 12 at 1 p.m. Do you give the Steelers a chance in heck of traveling to Buffalo and defeating a very good team that has had their number over the past two seasons? I guess it all depends on whether you’re holding a Terrible Towel or that aforementioned bucket of cold water.
As for the media—again, I’m talking about the national folks—it won’t truly be convinced of anything the Steelers do until they do something that can’t be dismissed by tying one’s self into illogical knots.
Beating the Bills on the road in Week 1 could be considered a fluke. (“Even the good teams often have a hard time finding themselves until the second quarter of the season.”) Defeating Buffalo in any round of the postseason, on the other hand, is something you could never dismiss.
But that’s all for another day. As of now, we’re heading into the dog days of the offseason. Soon, OTAs and mini-camp will be over, and all we’ll be left with is a vast desert of nothingness until training camp kicks off at the end of July.
In the meantime, I’m sure many more knock-down, drag-out fights will take place about the Steelers and how nobody should expect much from them in 2021.
Those are all words and opinions until they become reality.
Will negative results actually be a reality for the Steelers in 2021? That’s the perception, as of now.
Fortunately, the Steelers are the only ones who can change that perception into a different reality.