In looking at the individual seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, judging the success of the team is in the eye of the beholder. While I’m fairly certain there are six seasons in the Steelers franchise history were fans saw them as successful, all other seasons really depend on who is answering the question.
When it comes to looking back at the 2022 season, I personally thought it was a successful season for the Steelers despite coming up just short of the postseason. Yes, the Steelers have not won a postseason game since the 2016 season, but was this really the year going into everything fans expected that to end? With Ben Roethlisberger retiring which brought on a new quarterback era, seeing the team be relevant at the end of the season was all I had hoped for. Ending on a strong note to roll into the next season both met and exceeded my expectations in the first phase of retooling.
I know there are some fans that anything shy of hosting the Lombardi trophy at the end of the season means the season was a failure. But can a team truly win the Super Bowl every season? For the most part, being a championship-contending team is a multi-year process. Sometimes those years happen to be in the initial stages of being in the mix to be crowned Super Bowl champion.
The 2022 season is well behind us, and with teams participating in OTAs the 2023 season is underway with preseason games in just over two months. During the most recent episode of the Steelers Preview podcast, one of the listeners specifically asked me what it would take for me to deem the Steelers 2023 season a success. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of another discussion and interrupting things to answer the question would not have been appropriate. Instead, I’ll go on record in answering the question now.
For me to deem the 2023 NFL season success for the Pittsburgh Steelers, I want to be sitting here next year at this time with the expectation that this is a championship-level team.
While I do believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the rise going into 2023, I’m not going into the season with “championship or bust” expectations. I think the Steelers made a significant step last season, and I want to see another significant step this year in order to put them as one of the main teams to watch for next year.
So what does that mean specifically?
First, I want the Steelers to improve on their record from 2022. Even if it’s only one additional victory, any kind of improvement is what I want to see. Could there be extenuating circumstances like the first half of 2022 which changes my expectations of the season goes on? Absolutely. But for now, I’m going with seeing an improvement of their record, and the more improvement the better.
If the Steelers have an improved record for 2023, I believe this means they will be a playoff team. Is it possible for the Steelers to get the 10 wins and still not make the postseason? Yes it is. But I’m going to bank on 10 wins being enough to get them there.
What I would really like to see is the Steelers have more than 10 wins and put themselves in a better position to win their first postseason game since the 2016 season. While winning the AFC North would be great, it’s not absolutely necessary for me to feel this season is a success.
Additionally, putting the burden of a postseason victory is not absolutely necessary for 2023 to be a success for the Steelers in my eyes, but it would go a long way. If the Steelers made the playoffs but lost a very close game to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, I could maybe take that into consideration. So it’s not a total requirement, but it would make a successful season much easier to gauge.
So those are my expectations for the Steelers to have a successful season in 2023. What are yours? Do they lineup close to mine or are they way off? Am I under-selling the Steelers or over-selling? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.