It is the NFL offseason, a time and hope springs eternal for the majority of franchises. The potential of what each team can do in the coming season generally reigns supreme, and most fan bases feel that their team has made improvements from the previous year.
When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are a lot of unknowns going into the 2022 season. Granted, there were a number of unknowns last season. Questions such as Ben Roethlisberger‘s abilities at the end of his career, an almost completely rebuilt offensive line, and a brand new running back were just a few of the factors which needed to come together for the Steelers to have success. Based on the projected win total going into the season and the fact that the Steelers made the postseason, they slightly overachieved based on what outsiders believed they would accomplish in 2021.
Looking at 2022, those outside of the organization are down on the Steelers this year. With the over/under win total set at 7.5 according to draftkings.com, there are many around the NFL who look for the Steelers to struggle in their first season of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. As for the fan base, their expectations are all over the place.
To give an example, Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and I gave immediate knee-jerk predictions for the entire 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers schedule the night it was released. As I tried to have more of a conservative win total of the group, having the Steelers finish at 10–7 I was ridiculed on both ends of the spectrum. While some Steelers’ fans called me a hater for having them lose certain games, others thought I was dreaming for thinking that they could reach 10 wins in 2022. Based on criticism from both sides, perhaps I might have been close to something for those reasons.
In all honesty, I feel the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 season could see a huge range of how they actually perform. Why do I see it this way? I believe there are a whole lot of ‘ifs’ that, depending on how they come together, will determine the Steelers ultimate success this season.
Here a few of the ‘ifs’ I’m talking about:
- Quality quarterback play
- Adequate offensive line play
- Health at the running back position/improved reserve
- Young wide receivers meshing with their quarterback
- Implementation of Matt Canada‘s offensive scheme
- Improved defensive line play/availability
- Improved inside linebacker play
- Stopping the run
- Quality cornerback play
- The loss of Keith Butler versus the addition of Brian Flores
- Mike Tomlin’s first offseason without Ben Roethlisberger
There may be even more than this, but that’s already 11 things that are question marks going into 2022 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Could all of these things work out well? Absolutely. Could they all fall apart. It could be the case. It’s very difficult to know what to expect.
People might think this is a huge range, but I could see the Pittsburgh Steelers win total for 2022 falling anywhere between 4 and 14 games. If all of the issues listed above come together as improvements, particularly the first nine with the last two simply being status quo, I could see the Pittsburgh Steelers really making some noise in 2022. As some of these unknowns start moving into the negative category, the Steelers win total is likely to diminish as they try to cover for the inadequacies. Once there reaches a tipping point where more of these factors become a hindrance, the Steelers probably move into the losing record category. If everything falls apart with this list, and key injuries hit the team hard, scraping together victories is going to be difficult.
As you can see, there are a lot of things that could go wrong in 2022 for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also, there’s a lot of things that could go right.
For the Steelers’ fans that look at what the team can potentially do, they are probably hitting the over for the win total in a hard way. For those other fans to believe everything that can go wrong will go wrong, they may begrudgingly be thinking about taking the under. For me, my expectations is the Steelers will surprise in some categories while struggle with others, putting them truly in the middle of the road of what things could be.
There is such a wide range of what the Steelers could do this year. For some, it may be exciting while for others it’s quite scary. While it should make for an interesting year, make sure you do your best to enjoy the ride either way.
The 2022 season looks to be an open book. I’m excited to see what story the Steelers will write.