The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers on Sunday when the Miami Dolphins beat them 16-10 in Week 7 on Sunday Night Football. Following the game there were plenty of knee jerk reactions to appease the team’s global fan base. But what I thought I’d do this week, and maybe again moving forward, was to take a more level-headed approach after the dust settled on the game.
No emotions, just thoughts as the Steelers turn their attention to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8. Here is my “after further review” from the Steelers Week 7 loss:
Is this really all about the QB?
Find any social media platform, doesn’t matter which one, and you’ll see Steelers fans in two very specific sects. You’ll have those who support Kenny Pickett with all their heart and soul, and those who feel Mitch Trubisky gives the team the best chance to win right now.
But what if the conversation is moot? What if this isn’t really about the quarterback at all? Because, in my opinion, it isn’t. Sure, the quarterback position is a part of the issues surrounding the team, but taking a global look at the current roster and you see how this is a team which doesn’t just have a quarterback problem.
Fans are impatient, doesn’t mean the organization should be
When the Steelers are losing the way they have been, fans want change. It doesn’t matter what kind of change, they just want to see some semblance of change in hopes of fixing the myriad of problems plaguing the team. For fans, this is acceptable. As for the organization, they shouldn’t make knee jerk reactions. Change just for the sake of change is something bad teams/organizations do. Regardless of record, I don’t see the Steelers falling into that category. This isn’t to suggest no change should be made, after all doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. But the changes should be calculated and precise.
No quick fix
Speaking of changes, if you believe there is a quick fix anywhere on the roster, then you know something I don’t. I look at the team, and its current construction, and I don’t see anything, or anyone, who could give this team a quick fix. The team went to Kenny Pickett for a “spark”, and there aren’t really any other “spark” changes on the roster. Not to mention many would debate if Pickett ever provided said “spark” at all.
Would putting Myles Boykin in suddenly change the offense? No. Would playing Chris Wormley more on the defensive front pay huge dividends right away? No.
You see where I’m going with this...that quick fix just doesn’t exist for this team right now.
Embrace the suck
Piggybacking off the previous quick fix section, it is time for the fan base to embrace what the Steelers are in 2022. In other words, embrace the suck. This doesn’t mean losing becomes acceptable, but embracing the reality of the current team. It isn’t pretty.
The process is a grind, and it’s just really getting underway, so if you take a look back at the season thus far, and the upcoming games, you’ll see a team in transition. Embrace it, and hopefully watch the players and roster turn into something special down the road.
What were your expectations?
Fan frustration comes down to one thing — expectations. If you were someone who predicted the Steelers would win under the vegas win-loss total of 7.5 games, you’re sitting back and watching things unfold knowing your expectations were correct. If you’re like me and thought double-digit wins were possible, you are sitting and watching this team wondering what the heck happened.
Ultimately, the NFL is a tough business. When two teams with six Super Bowl titles leads the all-time mark, you realize how tough it is to compete year in and year out. On top of that, some people act like it is as simple as ordering a coffee at a drive thru. Did you think the Steelers would compete for a Super Bowl every season for the rest of your life? It was nice during the Ben Roethlisberger era, but there might be some tough seasons before getting back to a place of prominence.
Stop the comparisons, please
People love to compare players and eras. I’m not sure why, but you don’t have to look far to see the comparisons between Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season and Kenny Pickett’s current season. There is one huge flaw in these comparisons, and it has nothing to do with era. Trying to compare Pickett’s current team to Roethlisberger’s rookie team is crazy. You can’t compare the two. Roethlisberger had a veteran offensive line, a tremendous running game, leaders out the wazoo, and a defense capable of winning games every week. Roethlisberger didn’t have to throw the ball more than 25 times most weeks. Pickett, in just three starts, has thrown the ball more than 40 times twice already. In other words, stop comparing the two, it’s a waste of time and energy.
Where’s the balance?
Speaking of Roethlisberger’s rookie season, want to know what protecting a rookie signal caller looks like? Being able to run the ball to control the clock, and having a defense which can go out and win you games. The Steelers can’t run the ball, they rank 27th in the league in rushing yards per game entering Week 8, and the defense isn’t winning many games without T.J. Watt in the lineup. The defense’s best ranking is their rush defense, giving up 118.9 yards per game, which is 18th in the league.
This is the Steelers offense right now, and there isn’t much changing that anytime soon, but it would be interesting to see what Pickett could do when he has a running game and a defense capable of doing what is typical with Watt in the lineup.
This is a rebuild, admit it
Now for the difficult truth for many Steelers fans — what the team is currently undergoing is a rebuild.
Call it a retooling, re-stocking the shelves, whatever. Who cares the terminology.
The team is undergoing a massive amount of transition, and I’ve said on numerous occasions on my “Let’s Ride” podcast how this team is 2-3 years away from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender. And I stand by this prediction.
If Pickett proves to be “the guy” for the Steelers, it expedites the process, but 2-3 years is still the general range for when fans should expect the team to compete for a 7th Lombardi trophy.
With all that being said, I think it’s important to change our overall view of the current team. When watching the games, think about who will be staying to be a part of that rebuild, and who won’t be a part of it. Could Cam Heyward be the next Jerome Bettis who hangs on just long enough to potentially win one with the next crop of talented players?
Looking at the roster through this lens, you can see the pieces of the puzzle are starting to be put together, but it isn’t finished. The new front office will have to hit on picks in the NFL Draft, bring in quality free agents and make trades which have upside for the Steelers.
Still, 2-3 years...that’s my prediction.
So, after further review, the Steelers are in a really bad place right now. Will they bounce back vs. the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field? Let’s hope so...as for this article...it’s also under review.