Don’t let Steelers strong finish fool you

Dont+let+Steelers+strong+finish+fool+you

Andrew Deal

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the season with a win, but overall had an underwhelming season. The team had to ride a 4-game winning streak and win 6 of the last 7 games to finish 9-8 and not make the playoffs. Only one win of the six was against a playoff team. The only thing the winning streak at the end of the year did was lead the Steelers to another middle of the first round draft pick. 

The start of the season could not have gone any worse. We started with “veteran” QB Mitch Trubisky. He’s not necessarily a veteran, but looking at the QB room, he’s the most experienced of the bunch. To fans, he had a short leash, and he immediately heard it from the home crowd. Every bad throw, which happened more often than it should have, led to the fans chanting “Kenny, Kenny, Kenny,” for beloved rookie QB from Pitt Kenny Pickett. Coaching had something to do with it, however. Trubisky reportedly never had the ability to audible out of a play. He had to call the play sent to him from infamous Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada. How can the starting QB not be allowed to audible?

Some may think the back half of the season was positive for the offense. Yes, the offense looked more competent, but the team played one playoff team in the last 7 games, the Baltimore Ravens. We barely won that game and only scored 16 points. 

The lack of scoring touchdowns in the red zone is alarming. Is it Canada’s fault or is it Pickett’s? I would put more blame on Canada. On multiple occasions, the Steelers had 3rd downs inside the 20 and had Miles Boykin, Steven Sims, Gunner Olszewski, and one of Connor Heyward and Zach Gentry in the game. Why are the likes of Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Pat Freiermuth not in the game? Why are the stars not on the field on the most important plays?

Overall the team looked better in the final half of the season, but who did they look better against. Every team except for the Ravens had a losing record. What’s even worse, we had to come from behind in multiple games against dysfunctional teams like the Colts and Raiders. Even wins against teams like the Falcons and Panthers were closer than they should have been. While we may celebrate beating the Ravens once, don’t forget we lost to the Ravens, at home, against their 3rd string, undrafted free agent QB. 

Overall the team looked better in the final half of the season, but who did they look better against. Every team except for the Ravens had a losing record. What’s even worse, we had to come from behind in multiple games against dysfunctional teams like the Colts and Raiders…While we may celebrate beating the Ravens once, don’t forget we lost to the Ravens, at home, against their 3rd string, undrafted free agent QB.”

There was a trend in each of those wins. The offense showed promise with their first few drives, but looked inept for the rest of the game and trailing in the 4th quarter. This is where Kenny Pickett stepped up and saved the games like the Raiders and Ravens games. However, we wouldn’t have to watch him lead a game winning drive if the offense was consistent for all four quarters. 

Entering the game winning drive against the Ravens on Sunday Night Football, Pickett had 104 passing yards. An offense can not compete with the top teams when the quarterback has only thrown for 100 yards in the entire game.

No, Mike Tomlin shouldn’t be fired, but some changes need to be made. The fault should be pointed at the offense. The defense kept them in just about every game, except for Buffalo and Cincinnati. Those teams just so happen to be 2 of the 3 best teams in the AFC, and if the Steelers want to start competing for a championship real soon those games need to be competitive. 

The fact Matt Canada is returning for another season is just mind boggling. The team had the 26th ranked offense. Other teams to relieve their offensive coordinator of his duties include the Chargers, Titans, and Buccaneers. All 3 of these teams made the playoffs and had flashes of a dominant offense. If I’m the Steelers front office and I want to continue the “Steelers Way” of promoting guys from within the organization, I would sign Byron Leftwich to be an assistant. You can give him a similar position to Brian Flores on defense. Hopefully by the end of the 2023 NFL season, Leftwich would be the offensive coordinator because Matt Canada can’t get it done. 

The Steelers have left many fans, like me, with a ton of questions. We have too much talent to rebuild, but not enough at the moment to compete for a Super Bowl. The team is just going to continue to get stuck with a middle NFL pack – beating bad teams but unable to be considered serious Super Bowl contenders.