The Steelers fell short of the playoffs this year, but stand to be competitors in 2020. Here’s why Pittsburgh can make it to the Super Bowl next season.
Playing in the Super Bowl is the second-highest honor a team can receive in the NFL, next to winning the biggest game on Turf. The Steelers weren’t close to doing that in 2019.
After starting the season 1-4, Pittsburgh went on to win 7 of their next 8 games. However, with embarrassing quarterback play and the inability to move the ball on offense, the Steelers (who were once given a great chance to make the tournament) lost 3 straight games to close the season.
Pittsburgh will be watching Super Bowl LIV from home, but the 2020 season is a new year. Can the Steelers find a way to get into the Super Bowl next season?
There’s no doubt that Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl window is quickly closing. Ben Roethlisberger will be 38 years old for the upcoming season. The future Hall of Fame quarterback is recovering from major elbow surgery, and it’s hard to get a good gauge of where he stands right now.
Assuming Ben is healthy next year, there is no doubt the Steelers will be a competitive football team. Pittsburgh already boasts one of the NFL’s best defenses, and with players like T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Heyward, they have stars at every level.
While it still remains to be seen what will happen with the expiring contracts of Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave, it is believed that Dupree will, at the very least, receive the franchise tag by Pittsburgh while Hargrave could be on his way out. Still, young defenders like Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds, and even Minkah Fitzpatrick only stand to get better.
If the Steelers do indeed lose Hargrave, that loss will more than overshadowed by the return of Stephon Tuitt. Despite playing less than 6 full games in 2019, Tuitt was utterly dominant before his pectoral injury, and he still rated out as the 5th best interior defensive lineman in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Offensively, the Steelers have some major question marks at the tight end position, and their offensive line, with an average starting age over 30 years old, is the oldest in the league. However, they have some young, promising skill players who are looking to take major leaps.
Players like Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Benny Snell could all make improvements in 2020. And with a competent quarterback getting them the ball, their offense could finally start to take off.
Obviously, when talking about making the Super Bowl, there are still a few other AFC teams who will be favored over the Steelers heading into next season. The Chiefs have the best young player in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes, and they stand to be competitive every season. The Ravens are also a team that stands to be in the mix. Though the Patriots will still be a good team in 2020, they are no longer the powerhouse threat they used to be.
If the Steelers can find a way to be at least an average offense in 2020, there is no doubt they will be a competitive team next season. Pittsburgh’s defense is already legitimate. Getting Roethlisberger and Tuitt back next season is the first step of many that could lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl next year.