The Pittsburgh Steelers saw success in 2022, but it took time. It wasn’t until the second half of the season when the scheduled got significantly easier when the team started to find their way.
On the offensive side of the ball, an identity was being forged. A new quarterback and the ability to run the football were the primary reasons for the shift in approach. When that approach was successful, it becomes difficult to want to stray from that same identity in 2023.
That is exactly what the plan is as the team prepares for training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th.
“I feel like we found our identity,” Najee Harris said. “Early on we didn’t know what we were. There was a lot of stuff going on, especially the quarterback position, just bringing new guys in. Really, we didn’t have our identity. We were trying to look for it. And I think later on after that bye week we kind of figured out what we do best, and that’s playing Steelers football, that’s what we do. We run the ball. We have a good defense. We got good players outside so we try to get them the ball in space, we try to get deep balls downfield. But we have to control the line, we have to, control that rushing attack so we can out more pressure on the defensive coordinator to figure out what to do.
“If they want to stack the box, then we have people on the outside. If they want to play a six-man box then we can run the ball. I think we just got into an area where we found out who we are.”
When you hear a player or coach simplify things like Harris did, it makes sense. But talk is cheap, proof is in the pudding.
The improvements of the offensive line and across the offense are obvious, on paper. Will they be able to put the plan in place and see that identity be forged into on-field success? According to Harris, it all starts in practice.
“It starts in practice,” Harris continued. “It starts in the locker room. It starts in film. We gotta keep pressing. We gotta keep doing the small things, the little things, going to our meetings. We have to keep knowing that from where we were last year, after that bye week, us just really getting into the details, us really keying in on what we need to focus on, us working on the small things, like, for me my alignments and everything like that. All the little small details that play a big role, I think all that stuff plays over to the game. In the game it should be easy, it should be just execution, and that’s where I think we got better last year.
“Just going into (training) camp, I feel like all of us, we know exactly what we are. We know exactly what we need to work on. We’re doing a lot with the guys we have here, especially the new guys.
“We got (wide receiver) Calvin (Austin III) back, I think I’m excited about that. Calvin’s kind of a unicorn, you can out him really anywhere, put him in the backfield, at slot, everywhere. I think he’s gonna be featured a lot. He’s gonna put a lot of pressure on defenses, that’ll help out all of us, just seeing him line up everywhere.
“I’m excited for this year, especially for the guys we have coming in.”
Harris isn’t the only person who is excited for this upcoming season. Many fans are all-in on the 2023 Steelers, maybe not to be a genuine contender this year, but on the verge of becoming a team who could add to the Steelers’ Lombardi trophy case.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.