There are many questions that are asked about the Steelers daily, but there is one that we have all been pondering since the beginning of May: How will the Steelers 2022 season go? It’s a difficult question to answer, because every fan has their own view on the team this year. Throw in the different definitions of success that each fan has, and one’s answer could be everything from the worst season since the 1960s to the best season since the dominant 1970s dynasty.
I love statistics, and I thought about giving out statistics for each major player, but that didn’t seem right. Instead, I am going to go about this in a much broader view: How will the offense, defense, and special teams change and perform? And where do the Steelers hang with the rest of the stacked AFC? Let’s get into it.
The Steelers offense is going to be much different this year, with commander-in-chief Ben Roethlisberger hanging up his cleats. While it will be weird not to see #7 behind center, it released coordinator Matt Canada to chase after players that fit his scheme and re-work the playbook with a more mobile quarterback at the helm. The Steelers also added talent at receiver and offensive line. With Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Calvin Austin, and Pat Freiermuth all catching passes, and Najee Harris performing as the do everything guy, the offense has the chance to be in the top half of the league.
Meanwhile, the defense is surely in the top half, and could be in the top five if everyone comes back healthy. The Steelers did lose Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, and Joe Schobert, but will we really miss them? Tuitt didn’t play a single game, Schobert didn’t create a splash, and Haden had clearly lost a step from the guy who held the Steelers secondary together for years. Now look at the additions: Levi Wallace, Damontae Kazee, Myles Jack, DeMarvin Leal, and I would even count Tyson Alualu coming back from injury an "addition." The pass rush will be elite as ever, and I think that new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin could really help our secondary become even better.
However, there is a third phase of football, special teams, and it has the ability to change the course of a game and maybe even a season (just ask the Packers from last year). The Steelers, however, have great potential for success on special teams going into the 2022 season. Chris Boswell is a top five kicker in the league, and the coverage team was good last year. Add in the two blocked punts and the Steelers’ special teams could be amazing.
However, the concerning piece of the puzzle is most definitely punter Pressley Harvin III. He was the only punter taken in the 2021 NFL draft, and showed off his massive talent and potential in the preseason but struggled with consistency throughout the regular season. And then everything fell apart towards the end of the season when it was revealed that his father and grandmother both passed away in the last few weeks of the season, causing him to miss two of the last three weeks of the regular season. If he can come back in the right frame of mind and play in their honor, the Steelers special teams could be great. But that is a big if.
So where does that put the Steelers in terms of success this season? To me, success is defined in the record of the team, and if that is good enough to make the playoffs, then anything can happen. The first six weeks of the season bring multiple challenges to the team: Two road divisional games, a home game against Tom Brady, and games against AFC East teams such as the Bills, Patriots, and Jets. With an offense that is finding its footing and a defense under a new defensive coordinator, I think a plausible record coming out of this stretch is something like 3-3.
The next six games are somewhat easier, with matchups against a couple good NFC opponents in the Eagles and Saints. While we do play teams that I expect to be good this year such as the Bengals and Dolphins, we also play the Colts and Falcons, two teams I don’t believe in for the 2022 season. A good record to come out of this saga of the season is 7-5, though I think the Steelers could actually win the home Bengals game in Week 11, because our offense might be clicking around that point.
That brings us to the closing portion of the season, and with it comes three divisional games (including both Ravens matchups) and a couple easier games with the Panthers and Raiders. I could see the Steelers actually doing really well to close the season as they have owned the Ravens the past few years and the Panthers are still in the middle of their rebuild. The Steelers could easily go 4-1, but I think a safer option is to say they drop two games, bringing us to a nice 10-7 record, and a possible playoff spot, even in the intense AFC.
Those are my predictions on how our favorite team will perform, but that is just my view of the roster. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!