The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: What would you like to see from the Steelers on Sunday if it’s their last game of the season?
The Steelers enter the season finale knowing that this is the last game that they are guaranteed to have until next season. You are spotted the first 16. The next three to four have to be earned.
By record, they haven’t earned anything yet, and even a victory on Sunday may not be enough. They need help to get to January football, help that they can’t do anything about. By and large, they have put themselves in this position over the course of the past five weeks, and have shown some ugly traits since then.
To me, the most meaningful thing that I would like to see is the defense recording a few turnovers. They have only forced more than one turnover in a game twice this season, and the last one was back in their eighth game against the Carolina Panthers. They had four turnovers all the way back in Week Three against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In every other game, they managed just one turnover, or none. They failed to register a takeaway four times this season, though they did win two of those games. They are 3-5-1 this season when they lose the turnover battle.
Aside from that, it’s also about time to see a big play on a kick return. We had to wait until the finale last season as well when JuJu Smith-Schuster broke out for a touchdown. Ryan Switzer has been pretty solid as a punt returner, but he hasn’t done much on kick returns.
In terms of individual performances, I frankly don’t think the Bengals offer enough meaningful competition to be able to take anything away into next season. So what if Terrell Edmunds has a good game? Cincinnati isn’t going to have much of an offense outside of Joe Mixon.