The state of the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers is bad. There is no other way around this simple, yet frustrating, fact. Following their 35-13 dismantling by the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8, the Steelers head into their bye week sporting a 2-6 record.
Following the latest loss, fans around the globe want to hear talk of accountability. Talk of players righting the ship. Well, in the moments after the game players tried to do their best to explain what is going on, and wrong, with the team.
Were they successful in doing so? You be the judge...
Defensive captain Cameron Heyward had plenty to say about accountability following another devastating loss.
“Either you learn and are accountable or you’re not going to play.” Heyward said. “We’re going into the bye and we’ve all been given chances to see that. If you can’t do it, you won’t play. That goes for everybody. I’m not singling one guy out. We’ve all got to be accountable. Myself included.
“As a leader, I’ve got to take most of the blame. It’s easy to point [fingers]. It’s better to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I’ve got to get better.’ So, I’m going to use this time to truly do that.”
When it comes to him being vocal with teammates, and holding players accountable, Heyward said he wasn’t about to do that in any setting outside of the team’s facility.
“We’ll get back to Pittsburgh and really digest this film, but don’t hide from it. Expose the wounds. That’s the only way you get better. Not speaking up, not being accountable, and not asking the questions. That sets us back when guys, and everybody in our group, when we’re not asking the right questions and we’re not taking the accountability and we’re not taking it onto the practice field and then to the game. There’s a dysfunction there.”
Fellow defender Cam Sutton was almost speechless after the game. When asked what could improve, he knows it isn’t just one thing.
“It’s not necessarily just one thing, just kind of a collection. It’s different things, what the game brings us.” Sutton admitted. “Situational in certain areas and things happen throughout the course of the game or throughout the weeks. We just need to keep putting ourselves in the best position to come out with wins. It’s easy to keep saying that but something has to give. Yeah, something has to give. So just keep coming back. Guys are playing with a lot of effort. Come back after the bye week and get back on the right track.”
The player who had to face the most questions was the player who many have deemed the face of the franchise moving forward. None other than Kenny Pickett. In Pickett’s post-game press conference he eluded to the offense needing to study their playbook more. Yes, this after a Week 8 game.
“Playbook. We got to know what we’re doing.” said Pickett. “We’re not getting in the right spot. Having some procedural penalties. Personnel. All things we can control. There’s no talent issues. Anyone in here could go do that. As long as they know what they’re doing. So we have to get right there. It starts with me. I have to be more on my stuff and getting these guys right. I’ll take ownership of it.”
When it comes to Pickett’s message is to his offense, Pickett knows the standard which has been set this season can’t continue if they want to get out of their current funk.
“Something has to change. It’s insane to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect something different. We’ve been having these problems all year. That has to get changed. That has to get fixed. We need to look each other in the eyes and get it turned around. We’re only going to be able to do it. Coaches can say whatever they want. Everyone else in the media and fans can say what they want. But at the end of the day it’s down to us so we have to figure it out.
“You feel progress and then we have a penalty or we have something mental that we can control. And those are the things that frustrate you more than anything. A guy dropping a ball or missing a block or I miss a throw. The physical things, pat each other on the back and we will go get them next time. Those are the things we can put up with. But the stuff we can’t put up with are the mental, the mental mistakes. And that needs to get fixed. But we are close, everyone is saying we are close. When we fix that stuff I think then we’ll be close.”
The quarterback of a team is expected to be a leader, and Pickett was asked if he has to change anything on the leadership aspect his job and if that’s difficult to do as a rookie.
“Like I said the physical stuff, you don’t do that to a player. He drops a ball, you don’t rip him for that. But the mental stuff needs to get addressed and that will get addressed. That has to get addressed. We can’t keep doing that and hurting ourselves and not even giving us a chance to be successful. So that needs to be addressed.”
There is no easy fix for this Steelers team, and the players are doing their best to answer questions while knowing talk is cheap. Players can say the right things, but when it comes down to brass tacks they have to go out and execute. With the bye week here, they’ll have a little more time to get things right.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the New Orleans Saints after the bye in Week 10.