It's time to admit it: Mike Tomlin's 2023 Steelers are pretenders

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Michael Longo/For USA Today Network /

It’s time to stop denying the simple facts. The Steelers aren’t legitimate contenders this year. Despite a 4-3 record and a tight AFC North race, this team has too many flaws to overcome. As the trade deadline nears, this team needs to embrace what it is and admit the fact that they are pretenders this year.

While a winning record is good on paper and can alleviate a lot of issues, this team statistically is one of the worst in the league. It doesn’t matter if the play calling is better, who is throwing the ball, or how this defense plays; the stats don’t lie. The Steelers are a pathetically bad unit.

All you need to look at is total offense and defense. Unsurprisingly, the Steelers offense is putrid and ranks as such. Pittsburgh is sandwiched between both New York teams who have struggled with quarterback injuries en route to their respective struggles. The new and improved run game is averaging 80 yards a game and besides George Pickens, this offense is lacking any spark.

The defense isn’t much better. They are third from the bottom of the league and can’t effectively stop the run and the passing game. An offense that barely moves the ball and puts up points paired with a defense that fails to consistently stop opponents is a bad mix.

Frankly, the only reason this team has won games is turnovers. This defense is amongst the league's best in taking the ball away, and they have capitalized there. That said, it won’t be enough to consistently win. You can’t expect this defense to get as many turnovers and scores as it has en route to a Super Bowl berth.

The Steelers are pretenders

With the season being halfway over, there isn’t a realistic route that this team suddenly becomes a capable threat. The only reason for the turnaround last year was a sudden focus on the run game and a safe offense that didn’t turn the ball over. That has been the offense for the most part this year, and the results have been bad.

Even if this team finds a way to slightly improve, it won’t be enough. With the Bengals turning it around, the Ravens playing well, and the Browns finding ways to win without their starting quarterback, the Steelers are likely looking at a Wild Card spot. Even if they got there, a team relying on turnovers to win won’t make it far.

With the trade deadline here, the Steelers should be sellers. This team isn’t going anywhere this season, and will another 9-8 record really mean much? I’d rather trim some of the fat, get some young talent on the field, and prepare for a rebuild this offseason. I’m sick of doing just enough to get a winning record; I want some actual success.

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Don’t trick yourselves with a respectable record, this team has been bad this season. Assuming those issues stay around, their record will reflect that, as relying on turnovers to win isn’t sustainable. This team needs to realize that they are pretenders. They aren’t a good team, and there is no sense in doing just enough to break even this year.