There is no monolithic Steeler Nation, no matter how much anybody might want to believe that. There will always be a diversity of opinions as an inevitable byproduct of having such a large sample size. That is another way of saying that there have always been those who have never really believed in the supposed potential of this Pittsburgh Steelers offense.
The players and the coaches fueled it themselves a few years ago, of course, talking about their goal of averaging 30 points per game, and even claiming to toy around with the idea of attempting two-point conversions after every touchdown.
But it would seem to me that perhaps all but the absolute utmost ardent supporters of the team find themselves today questioning just what was said above: whether or not this offense will ever live up to the potential that has been a running narrative for several years.
With a Pro Bowl quarterback, two All-Pro talents at wide receiver and running back, and a couple of additional All-Pros along the offensive line—with a smattering of Pro Bowl-caliber players elsewhere—the conversation has always been that the Steelers have perhaps the most talented offensive roster in the league, if only they could put it all together.
Sure, the case to be made for Antonio Brown, even continuing into this season, is easy enough to make. Most would not bat an eye saying he is the best wide receiver in the game. He has 40 receptions for 545 yards through the first five games of the season, on pace for 128 and 1744.
And I’m sure that many still believe in running back Le’Veon Bell, who just last year produced the third-highest average output of yards from scrimmage per game over the course of a season. He has been largely a pale imitator of that stupendous player through much of this season, but you do see it at times.
Martavis Bryant? He has made some plays, but I don’t hear anybody really talking about him dominating the game anymore or emerging as the best wide receiver in the league. Ben Roethlisberger has thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes to date this season. And the offensive line has not been up to snuff, either.
Even when they were all playing better than this, the Steelers were still off the mark—not the arbitrary 30-point mark, but just simply the mark of a championship-caliber unit that could carry the team all by itself if necessary. It was necessary last year and they didn’t do it.
While no one game is ever a sufficient sample size, it is hard not to feel more strongly after yesterday’s game that this is not an offense that is ever going to materialize as the force as it was advertised. And if it is going in any direction, it is downhill. They have a short amount of time to change that perception.