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2023 is more than ‘just another season’ for Steelers fans

We need this.

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers avoids a sack by Mike Greene #91 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game at Raymond James Stadium on August 11, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

As this season gets underway, let’s take a brief look at where we’ve been on through where we are today.

Being a football fan has its ups and downs. To be honest, there are more down years than up, being as only one team is happy at the end of the season.

It’s the journey that we partake in with our teams. That’s our connection. Win or lose, we’re connected with our favorite teams for the long haul. Look at Brown’s fans and how they support, in a realistic manner mind you, even when they know they aren’t going anywhere.

Have Steelers fans had it that much different these last few years?

Did anyone honestly believe we stood a chance against the Chiefs in Ben Roethlisberger’s last game? I didn’t. I hoped, but I knew the outcome. We all did. At the start of the game, we were excited. It looked like it was going to be a game for about a half of a quarter. We know the results.

Going back further, how much faith did we really have when Bell held out prior to Ben’s retirement? It was a fun year but there was too much to overcome defensively and to lose Bell, was losing that explosion that could only come from him at the time. It’s why guys hold out. They know this too. It’s the business aspect most fans try to avoid but have huge implications for your team’s season. Lose a high-caliber player, and you lose your edge — the thing that made you better. After T.J. Watt’s injury last season, I know we can all relate.

We’ve endured what other fans have endured over the last 50 years and much, much more. We’ve been fortunate overall, but these last few years have been tough on the team and the fans.

For these last few years, or more, actually, the offensive line has been dreadful. We couldn’t run the ball. We had to change our scheme to quick hit patterns to avoid getting our quarterback killed because the protection was so bad.

Until now.

The new-age Steelers

The transition from team to team can be rough depending on who you lose let alone a rebuild or an overhaul as we’ve done these last two years. But remember, we aren’t the Browns, we’re the Steelers and we don’t stay down for long.

What we’ve accomplished from Ben’s last season until now is quite remarkable. It’s not up for debate although the results will not be known until the end of the year.

At the head of it all, we started with the replacement of Big Ben. Kenny Pickett doesn’t have Ben’s arm, but he’s as cool as they come. Well-liked in the locker room and more importantly his demeanor is one the men can wrap their arms around and respect. You want to play hard for him, as you know he’s giving it his all. He’s a winner and just needs to do his part as we’ve done so much more.

The inability to run the ball consistently these last few years seems to be a thing of the past. We’ve completely overhauled the offensive line successfully. I’m sure we’re not done. But at this point, we have a very physical, athletic, group of maulers up front with two young, hungry, talented, and proven players to tote the rock. We will run the ball as well as we have in the last 15 years.

Our tight ends room may just be the best TE room in the NFL, top to bottom. The emergence of Washington as a 6th offensive lineman has now blossomed into repeated touchdowns in camp. Why would anyone think he can’t catch? Throw in the utility knife that is Heyward, there isn’t a group overall that matches us from Muth on down Gentry.

We haven’t been able to stop the run or cover the shallow middle of the field since Shazier got hurt. So, the Steelers brass makes the choice to just start over inside — completely. It never happens this way. We even let go of long-time ILB coach and former player Jerry Olsavsky (O).

It’s an entirely new room except for one holdover that we hope can make the cut down the road and be a full-time starter. All are thumpers, and two can run sideline to sideline on a regular. I’m not sure there’s a “Jack” in that group, but I think it compares to the Farrior’s, Williams’, and Timmons’ that held it down prior.

Depth is the difference

Something we have not had at all in recent years, regardless of position, is depth. Seemingly overnight, we have depth at TE, O line, D line, ILB, OLB, WR, and safety. I hold off saying we have depth at the corner spot. I think we are solid for our packages but with Trice getting hurt, it stings a little now but really hampers down the road and will be a position we will continually add to.

Don’t forget about the depth of the quarterbacks room. When you think about QB rooms in general, although our ceiling is lower, does anyone else have better depth at the position?

The 2023 season means more

This year is so much more than just another season. This is a new beginning for a team that has repeatedly struggled over these past seasons. Not without reason, as I believe that those years have really educated Coach T. This is usually a time when a head coach of Mike Tomlin’s stature moves on. He’s still young though and has a fire in his eye we haven’t seen in a few years. And he has a new team. As new as when he took over for Coach Cowher. But no one can say this team isn’t his. No one.

They say hindsight is 20/20. Coach probably sees clearly looking ahead, being as this is a second go around. A second chance. Not unlike Andy Reid and what he’s done in KC, only Tomlin gets to stay home here in Pittsburgh. He’s stubborn, but he’s teachable and I know for a fact that we are going to see the results this year.

There have been so many unknowns recently. Can we stop the run, can we run, can we throw, can we stop big plays, can we, can we, can we? We seem to have found the answers to all these questions.

At this moment right now, think about how excited you are. Think about it.

And we never even talked about the fact we possess the best edge tandem in all of football in TJ and Alex as well as the sky’s the limit for our receivers room room.

Believe it or not Steeler Nation, we’re back. We were never really gone as evidenced by our .500 records, but we’re at a point where…..

We need this season!