Although many believe the saying of “you are what your record says you are” is true, sometimes the context of things can paint a more accurate picture. This is very true in the NFL. Using a recent Pittsburgh Steelers team as an example, when the team started 11–0 in 2020 they were far from a perfect team. Looking around the NFL in 2022, any of the teams in the NFC South, all of which currently have a losing record, are on the verge of a postseason berth but ultimately are not considered a viable threat within the conference.
So why even bring up this topic?
I feel that the current state of the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers and where they sit in the playoff picture is an accurate assessment of their 2022 season to date.
Why do I feel this way? I think the Pittsburgh Steelers are a team with an improving offense and a defense that has the potential to lock down a team yet still has moments where they get exposed. This combination can lead to a fair amount of victories throughout the season, but also makes it difficult to knock off the upper echelon of teams in the NFL. Based on this idea, I believe the Steelers current 7–8 record and the fact that they’re still hanging on for the possibility of the postseason yet ultimately are on the outside looking in is right about where they should be.
Looking up and down the Steelers roster, does this really feel like a playoff team? I believe they’re close, and could be a team that gets it all together to close out the season, but they’re just not quite there.
Being relevant when entering Week 17 and still alive for the postseason is a significant accomplishment for what the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers have gone through. It’s not just moving on from a future Hall of Fame quarterback, it’s also the loss of the best defensive player in the NFL for almost half of the season. Working through the absence of who is likely the most significant player on each side of the ball from the previous season is a daunting task. And even though some fans believe the Steelers are more in a “reload” than a “rebuild,” being a team not far from removed from the postseason picture is actually a pretty good steppingstone into the 2023 season.
I know, the Pittsburgh Steelers still have two more games remaining in the 2022 season. Yes, whether or not they win them both, lose them both, or manage a split will really determine a lot as this team heads into the offseason. But looking at where they are as the 2022 calendar year comes to an end, I think most fans can look at the roster and the way the season has played out and think that the Steelers aren’t doing too bad with all things considered.
Of course there are bound to be those fans who want to bring up that the Steelers have the most expensive defense in the NFL, but in a salary cap system where teams are generally spending the same amount of money, this ultimately means that the Steelers have the cheapest offense. The fact that the veteran players with big salaries are all on one side of the ball isn’t that strange of a thing. And even though the defense has disappointed fans at times, it has also kept the offense in situations where they can win games with scores like 13–10. Once again, it’s fitting into realistic expectations.
There are a wide variety of Pittsburgh Steelers fans, and the expectations of these fans very differently. Some had high expectations coming into the season. Others had a more realistic outlook on a team in transition on offense and may have had high hopes, but put a much lower standard of expectations.
This idea isn’t about the notion of no losing season since 2004 or things of that nature. I don’t feel this version of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one that should have been breaking records in the win department. Ultimately, 2022 should have been about growing, improving, and evaluating.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a rough start without T.J. Watt and had a 2–6 record going into the bye week. Since then, things have started to come together, their first round rookie quarterback is learning to take care of the football in the NFL, and the Steelers have gone 5–2 in an easier stretch of games than what they saw early on. There’s a lot to build on as the team looks to finish out their last couple games and head into the offseason.
There may be some that will be upset with the Steelers final record, be it 7–10, 8-9, or 9–8. Some may complain that this is the Pittsburgh Steelers and that lowering the standard is unacceptable. But this is a team that had a major transition on the offensive side of the ball and lost their best player on defense early in the season for a significant amount of games. If given the time to stop and reflect on what ultimately would be considered a good season under these circumstances, I think most fans might be satisfied with how things have played out so far.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team fighting to get back to .500 for the season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that are still in the playoff picture with two games to go, but need a lot of help.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that has won five of their last seven games.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that has a lot of good things to build on as they move into the 2023 offseason.
Now it’s up to the Pittsburgh Steelers to get the job done in the last two games and keep things rolling.