The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to trend in the wrong direction after a 1-4 start, and this franchise is long overdue for real changes.
A ship-wrecked person can only tread water for so long. Eventually, someone needs to throw them a life preserver before the sea claims them. Right now, the Pittsburgh Steelers are like a person gasping for air after tirelessly trying to keep their head above water. Instead of clinging to the floatation device in front of them, they continue to stare at the treasure beneath their feet slowly sinking to the ocean floor — neglecting their own well-being in the process.
A bizarre simile, I know, but this is what it has felt like to be a Steelers fan over the past few years. The sun was clearly setting on the Ben Roethlisberger era, and the team had been trending in the wrong direction. It was never realistic to get their hands on a seventh Lombardi trophy over the past few seasons, but Pittsburgh continued to make short-sighted moves and neglected to consider the future.
Instead of attempting to rebuild their roster from the foundation, Pittsburgh has simply elected to ‘reload.’ While this philosophy might have worked in the past, the Steelers have been operating on borrowed time, and doing another patchwork job in free agency wasn’t going to be the boost they needed to get their team back to being Super Bowl contenders.
After exhausting every resource during the offseason in an effort to tread water with a .500 record once again this season, the Steelers need to finally hit the ‘reset’ button. Genuine and drastic changes need to be made, but where should they start?
Steelers major changes must start with the coaching staff
We knew that signing mid-level free agents and spending every available dollar was only going to help them for so long. Since 2015, the Pittsburgh Steelers have missed far too often on early selections in the NFL Draft, and some of their questionable decision-making has caught up with them.
Like it or not, there’s a talent issue on this team that must be addressed. The Steelers have been placing too much value in the wrong positions and have misevaluated talent. However, I think the biggest changes need to start with the coaching staff, and they need to happen early in 2023.
The jury is still out on the new top dogs in the front office. While I wasn’t thrilled about in-house hiring going from Kevin Colbert to Omar Khan as Steelers general manager, I feel somewhat optimistic with new assistant GM, Andy Weidl, also on board (who recently played a big role in turning the Eagles’ roster around). However, major changes need to take place with the coaching staff.
First and foremost, Matt Canada needs to go. Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator has been grossly underwhelming since day one, and the team simply cannot afford to suffer through another year of a stagnant offense that has ranked near the bottom in every major statistical category. In his stead, the Steelers must pursue an innovative offensive mind who can truly aid in the development of Kenny Pickett.
Additionally, Khan needs to think twice before bringing back Teryl Austin as the team’s defensive coordinator. The Steelers aren’t talented enough to run this basic Cover 2 shell, and the lack of creativity on defense has exploited some major holes. It’s Austin’s job to help cover those holes, and I don’t think he’s been doing a great job since taking over for Keith Butler.
Even Mike Tomlin himself should be on the hot seat. Despite a resume that was very impressive early in his head coaching career, the Steelers are about to be the only team without a playoff win over the past six seasons who haven’t fired their head coach during that span. I’m not saying that the team must move on from him, but if Tomlin isn’t on board with making some major changes to both the staff and the roster, it might finally be time to part ways.
It’s not that I want the Steelers to demolish their team only to build it from the ground up. This is a challenging process nobody wants to endure. However, I also know that without real change, we can’t (and shouldn’t) expect real results. It’s time to let go of unrealistic expectations of competing for a Super Bowl with this current team and start building a roster and a coaching staff that could potentially see them return to glory a few years down the line.