clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Which position group was most concerning for the 2022 Steelers?

When looking back at the Steelers this past season, which area of the field was the most cause for concern?

NFL: DEC 24 Raiders at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 season has now been concluded for more than six weeks. Since the entire 2022 season is over with all teams moving into the 2023 offseason, there’s been plenty of time to look back and reflect on both the accomplishments and shortcomings of this past year‘s team.

Since it’s impossible to go back and change the past, what’s most important when looking at 2022 is to see how it builds towards the future in 2023 and beyond. With much discussion about which position group the Steelers need to improve based on potential free agent losses and things of that nature, sometimes what gets lost in the shuffle‘s where the Steelers had both the most and least success in the previous year. It’s possible for the Steelers to be losing no one at a given position yet still need to do something based on expectations coming up short the previous year. Additionally, another position group could be the strongest for the team and a focus on keeping the group intact might be the best approach.

So before looking ahead at what positions the Steelers ultimately need to address when the league year begins in just over two weeks, let’s take a chance to reflect back and identify the Steelers strengths and weaknesses. Since the discussion of strengths would probably lead more to the weakest spots in terms of the discussion, let’ go ahead and start with weaknesses today and save the strengths for tomorrow.

So the question for today is this: Which position group of the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers was the biggest area of concern? Remember, this is looking back at this past season and not moving ahead as the results of this discussion will be the driving force behind those questions which will be addressed next weekend.


Quarterback

In the first season after the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, there were a lot of questions about the quarterback position coming into the year. The Steelers added who many felt was the top free agent at the position in Mitch Trubisky as well as using the 20th overall pick on Kenny Pickett. While the play was not perfect, the Steelers first-round draft pick did improve throughout the year after taking over as the starter in Week 5.

Running back

Although there was a lot of concerns across Steelers’ Nation in regards to Najee Harris and his production early in the season, the Steelers running game turned it on in the second half of the season. The Steelers also seemed to find a more-than-adequate second option in Jaylen Warren.

Offensive line

If the question was about the position group that was the most concerning going into the 2022 season, this was the choice for me hands-down. I expected a complete disaster to start the year, which was not nearly as bad from the very beginning of the regular season. Additionally, the unit continued to improve throughout the year and all five players started every game.

Tight end

The Steelers seem to have a star in the making in Pat Freiermuth at tight end as long as his availability is not in question. Zach Gentry continued to evolve into his role as a blocker and Connor Heyward showed more as a sixth-round draft pick then what many Steelers fans expected.

Wide receiver

Despite fourth round draft pick Calvin Austin III spending the entire season on the Reserve/Injured List, the Steelers still had enough confidence in their wide receivers to trade Chase Claypool during the bye week.

Defensive line

When the Steelers had the number one defensive line in 2020, it’s very difficult to see how things weren’t the same over the last two seasons. Cam Heyward continued to excel even though he did not get the recognition he should have across the league, and Larry Ogunjobi helped solidify things very well. The combination of veteran and young players mixed together throughout the season, but was it enough?

Outside linebacker

The Steelers were tested early in the season as 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt was lost due to injury. But what was initially feared to end his season only cost him through the Steelers bye week. Alex Highsmith continued to grow even more throughout the year, but looking at options after the Steelers top two last season leaves a lot to be desired.

Inside linebacker

Over the past three seasons, there has been little regularity at the inside linebacker position. Devin Bush started next to a number of different players over that time such as Vince Williams, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, and Myles Jack. It seems the Steelers keep throwing different players at the position hoping eventually something will stick. Last season saw Robert Spillane playing every snap the last four games.

Cornerback

I almost didn’t split the cornerbacks and safeties due to roles meshing between the two units, but I decided to look at them separately anyway. The Steelers came into the season where the biggest knock was they did not have a number one player but had multiple number twos. But by the end of the season, the Steelers were constantly keeping their opponents to less than 200 yards passing while being tied for the league lead in interceptions.

Safety

Take everything that was said about cornerbacks and push it into the safety position while hitting “magnify.” Minkah Fitzpatrick was an All-Pro selection and had six interceptions this past season. Even in games when Fitzpatrick was out due to injury (or appendectomy), the Steelers safeties still stepped up and were able to help win games. Being able to utilize the three safety look in the later portion of the season with Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, and Damontae Kazee was an asset.

Specialists

I almost forgot and left them out, but the three specialists on the team should both be eligible for praise and criticism. Chris Boswell had his second-worst year of his career in 2022 and Presley Harvin III continued to struggle with consistency although he finished the year strong. As for Christian Kuntz as the long snapper, there wasn’t really anything that jumped off the page either positively or negatively.


So there is a brief reminder as to how each position group performed during the 2022 season. Now the rest of the story is up to you. Which position group do you believe was the most concerning last season? Make sure to vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Poll

Which position group was most concerning for the 2022 Steelers?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Quarterback
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    Running back
    (0 votes)
  • 21%
    Offensive line
    (170 votes)
  • 0%
    Tight end
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Wide receiver
    (6 votes)
  • 9%
    Defensive line
    (74 votes)
  • 1%
    Outside linebacker
    (11 votes)
  • 58%
    Inside linebacker
    (466 votes)
  • 5%
    Cornerback
    (44 votes)
  • 0%
    Safety
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Specialists
    (12 votes)
803 votes total Vote Now