The Pittsburgh Steelers had high hopes as the team prepare for the 2021 regular season. After an offseason which saw them keep a part of their nucleus together, and a nice 2021 NFL Draft class, things were looking up for the black and gold.
After their come-from-behind win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, many were wondering if this team was a team destined for greatness.
Then Week 2 came and the Las Vegas Raiders spoiled their home opener at Heinz Field.
Then Week 3 came and the hits kept coming. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense were held to just 10 points, while surrendering 24 for the team’s second straight loss. Staring at a 1-2 record, and being in last place in the AFC North, the Steelers have some soul searching to do. Trying to re-gain their confidence and figure out the next step forward to salvage the 2021 season.
After the game several players were asked about the team’s mindset and confidence levels, and rookie Pat Freiermuth had this to say about why the Steelers should still be a confident team, despite their recent struggles.
“I think the confidence comes from: we have all the talent in the world on offense, and especially defense as well.” Freiermuth said. “I’m wishing to continue to be confident in ourselves, and not be down on each other and not break away as a team. Here, we’ve got to come together and build each other up because we’ve got a lot of talent at receiver and tight end, o-line, quarterback, and so forth. We’ve just got to continue to stick together and just find ways to exploit the defense and make explosive plays.”
For a defensive captain, and a veteran on the team, Cam Heyward wasn’t about to sugar coat just how poorly the Steelers played at Heinz Field Sunday.
“We sucked today.” Heyward admitted. “Things did not look well and didn’t play in our favor. Our level of execution was not high. Whether it’s missing the tackle in the red zone when we should’ve just gave up three or a two-minute drive, we’ve go to get off the field, starts with a penalty, then ends with a touchdown. As a defense, that’s unacceptable. It was less than two minutes. Then going into the half, we didn’t take the field and get off the field, and when you have that, that’s a recipe for a disaster. Defense, we did not play well. Hopefully, it’s the worst one of the year.”
As expected, Ben Roethlisberger fell on the proverbial sword following the game, and considering his two interceptions were the back-breaking variety, the start of improved play starts with No. 7.
“It’s got to start with me. I’m not going to point the fingers at anybody else. I’ll point the thumb at myself and try and get it figured out. I’m a little stumped by it. I’m frustrated. I’m hurt. I hate losing.” Roethlisberger said. “Never going to quit and give up. It’s frustrating because I know the work that we all put in. And myself, and other guys, and Coach Canada, and the other coaches, we’re busting our butts. We’re having great days of practice, we’re having great walkthroughs, good meetings. Just hope at some point it clicks for us.”
As the head coach, what kind of message does Mike Tomlin have for his young players, especially those who have struggled in the early stages of the season?
“Like I just told them, absorb the negativity that comes with our positioning and how we perform and keep your mouth shut and resolve to do better.” Tomlin said. “And that’s not only for them, but that’s for all of us, players and coaches.”
The Steelers won’t have a long time to sit back and wallow in their misery, they now have to prepare for the tough test of playing the Green Bay Packers (2-1) at Lambeau Field next Sunday afternoon in Week 4. Would a win boost the team’s confidence and swagger? Absolutely, but don’t expect to find many fans who believe that will actually happen.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the next game on the 2021 regular season schedule.