When it comes to forming narratives, it tends to frequently be the case that the ones that are important to the team are significantly different from the ones that are highlighted by the media and by fans. As it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the current leader in the clubhouse on that front has to be a necessary obsession over the Patriots.
While the Patriots Palooza gets a run for its money by the all-press-coverage-all-the-time talk, there has been no more all-consuming storyline that we have seen covered in both local and national media and on message boards everywhere than the one about the Steelers needing to figure out how to beat New England.
They will try to figure out how to beat New England this season, of course—because they play them. Just like the other 15 games, they will have a game plan designed to beat the Patriots. But it won’t be disproportionately obsessed-over as though merely being able to beat the Patriots automatically awards them a Lombardi Trophy.
Sure, the Steelers have a ‘Patriots problem’, as it has been phrased. But as Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier points out, the entire league has a Patriots problem. Everybody is trying to figure out how to beat them—at least those who will play them—but he thinks the team will have an answer this year.
“They’ve been a great team, they have a great leader, and they just find a way to win“, Shazier recently told reporters during minicamp, according to Jeremy Fowler for ESPN. “They have a good strategy in what they want to do”, as we have clearly seen over the years. The Patriots have arguably the most adaptive strategy based on opponent in the league.
“But I feel we are going to be prepared for them this year”, the Pro Bowler continued. “I feel we are going to get them when we need to get them. And at any day I feel we can win the Super Bowl. We might have had a problem in the past but I think we are going to be ready this time”.
Now, that is obviously easier said than done. While they don’t play the Patriots every season, they have last come away with a victory in 2011, so it’s not something that happens all the time. Virtually 30 other teams have the same problem, of course.
The players and coaches may not be obsessed with New England, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t understand that they need to be able to beat them. Not only are they on the schedule during the regular season, they have been in the AFC Championship game for six consecutive seasons.
Shazier said that the players do understand “how important this year is and how much it would mean if we got over that obstacle”, but also added, “I think we have the team to do it and everybody is prepared to do it. We compete every day and try to get better every day for things like that”.