There was so much buzz among the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base going into the start of the 2022 NFL league year. The Steelers found themselves in unfamiliar, but not unwelcome, territory as they were searching for a new quarterback, a new general manager, and had a number of changes both in the coaching staff and players in the locker room.
After navigating through some very ‘‘make or break” situations, the Steelers have arrived on the cusp of the 2022 regular season with much more hope than many were expecting. With DraftKings Sportsbook having early odds of the Steelers only winning 7.5 games in 2022, the excitement of a large portion of Steelers’ Nation is completely ready to pound the over and continue with Mike Tomlin’s streak of consecutive non-losing seasons.
When moving on from a future Hall of Fame quarterback who owns a plethora of Steelers records — including those for games played — seeing a quarterback that brings some different attributes is a welcome sight. Regardless of who is taking the snap for the Steelers this season, any one of the quarterbacks can navigate the pocket and elude pass rushers in order to buy the needed time for things to develop and not have to set NFL records for the smallest time interval from snap to release. And with all three of the Steelers’ quarterbacks competing for playing time giving quality performances, the hope of those who merely wanted “just one of them to work out” are being blown out of the water.
Between quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph, the Steelers have options when it comes to who they ultimately want to command of the huddle. All three players have shown they can adequately move the football and can put the Steelers in a position to win.
One of the most pleasant surprises, although maybe not as big of a surprise to some as it is to others, is the emergence of second-round draft pick wide receiver George Pickens. With three main boxes to check, Pickens has already crossed off the first two and is merely waiting for his third opportunity in September:
Perform well in training camp … Check.
Perform well in the preseason … Check
Perform well in the regular season … TBD
All indications show that Pickens will be yet another of the young offensive weapons the Steelers will have in their arsenal for the 2022 season. With Pro Bowlers Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson leading the group that also includes Chase Claypool and tight end Pat Freiermuth, the Steelers have the necessary pieces to create offensive splash as long as their offensive line can slow down defenses in order to succeed.
As for the Steelers defense, T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick will continue to lead this group as they push towards greatness. It’s not a secret the Pittsburgh Steelers have been very successful rushing the passer over the last five seasons as they have notched at least 50 sacks every year since T.J. Watt joined the team in 2017. With Minkah Fitzpatrick holding things down on the back end with a number of solid pieces in the secondary, the Steelers defense may very well be defined by their weakest link coming into 2022.
After starting the year in the top 10 in rushing defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw their NFL ranking plummet to the bottom of the league as they gave up the most rushing yards in franchise history in 2021. Even though key injuries on the defensive line to Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu last season can be attributed to some of the problem, the “next man up,” as head coach Mike Tomlin likes to call them, needs to show the standard is the standard. With the return of Tyson Alualu, but the loss of Tuitt to retirement, it will be up to the newly added pieces of the Larry Ogunjobi on the defensive line and linebacker Myles Jack in the middle of the field who will help bring this defense back to an adequate level when it comes to stopping the run. But while improvement is hopeful, it has yet to be proven.
When it comes to how it’s ultimately going for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they head into the 2022 season, former general manager Kevin Colbert along with new general manager Omar Khan have put together a lot of great pieces in order for this team to find success. But pieces can only go so far. What will ultimately determine the outcome of the Steelers season is getting those pieces to fit together properly on both sides of the ball in order to bring the best success on the field.