The Steelers stubborn ways have royally screwed up this team

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

No matter how you feel about the current state of the Steelers, there is one reason every fan should be furious with this organization right now.

The 2022 Steelers were a mixed bag heading into the season. With a lot of new faces, most people expected this team to have some growing pains. That said, the general consensus was Pittsburgh would be an average team because of the franchise’s stability. Some people, like myself, had lower expectations while others expected a playoff berth.

While I did fall for some of the quarterback hype in training camp and the surprise win over the Bengals, I am not shocked that this team has struggled. Now, did I expect this team to be a bottom-five team with next to no positives on the roster? No, but struggling as the team has isn’t a shock, nor am I upset about the record on the surface.

The Steelers were due for a rebuild

Losing the face of the franchise in Ben Roethlisberger was bound to cause some pain for this team. Almost every team that loses their stable, franchise quarterback goes through this. The Steelers were to be no different, as despite the hype that Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett garnered in the offseason, neither has looked very good when on the field.

Going through a season of bad play isn’t the end of the world. Pittsburgh was a constant competitor for almost 20 years, so a down year or two were to be expected with Roethlisberger retiring. I am not upset that this team is having a down year, I’m upset at the stubborn nature of the Steelers to actually commit to being better long-term.

The Steelers failed in their potential rebuild

I wrote early in the offseason how I would have personally attacked the offseason in order to rebuild this team. This included some coordinator changes, some cuts, and a focus on young talent with potential in free agency as well as the best player available strategy in the draft. For the most part, none of this happened.

The team instead focused on finding their next quarterback right away, adding one in both the draft and free agency. While the team also added James Daniels as their “big-name” free agent, they opted for band-aids as opposed to committing to a rebuild. The cornerback room was the best example of this, as instead of adding a top-tier name, they added mid-tier veterans with little upside.

All of this was to save face, as the team wanted to find a way to remain competitive even if the rest of the roster wasn’t there yet. Having a down year is acceptable if there is a plan moving forward. Gaining that top draft pick and adding quality free agents makes a down year far more acceptable. Instead, the team focused on a quarterback and now lacks the talent to aid in his development.

This issue has continued during the bye week

Despite entering the bye with a miserable record and almost no positives to build off of, the team decided to remain mostly the same. Sure, they dealt Chase Claypool away, but the team is acting like they are still a competitor when they clearly aren’t. This was evident by bringing in William Jackson.

While I have no issue with the compensation for Jackson (we gave up essentially nothing to acquire him), he is an aging veteran cornerback who likely won’t be here for all that long. Why bother when you can take a look at some of the younger guys on the roster and see if they are worth building around long-term?

Add in the lack of general changes at coordinator and you have a team that says it needs to get better but comes out with the same issues in every game. I have no doubt that this offense will be as stale as it was before the bye week when they play again. Everyone is talking about the changes that need to be made, yet the team remained stagnant through the bye week as if they have a chance to be any good.

What this team needed to do was trim some of their dead weight during the bye week. They should have sought out additional trades and moved on from Matt Canada at a minimum. Instead, they mostly stood pat and have kept a consistent team around despite demanding different results.

Even if this team went on a winning streak after the bye, it would all be for nothing. Unless the AFC North collapses or the Steelers win every game after the bye, this team won’t be anything more than average. We will still have the same we had last year going into the offseason and now we will have a lesser draft pick because of it.

I am all for remaining a competitive team and not focusing on a long rebuild. When your mantra shifts from winning to rebuilding, you can get stuck in long cycles of bad seasons. That said, this team is going about this season the wrong way. They hype change but remain stagnant, and they are still looking to win games despite this season being lost.

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I am not upset that this team is struggling right now, or that they are positioned to have a top draft pick because of their struggles. The issue is two-fold: the team won’t commit to an actual rebuild and the team will promote changes but never actually change anything. Both of those issues are infuriating, and until they are solved, this team will have some bad seasons in front of them.