The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph, and now Devlin Hodges? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
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: In light of their three-game losing streak to end the season, did the Steelers ultimately underperform?
By the end of Week two, most had regarded the Steelers’ 2019 season as lost, having fallen in their first two games, only to see their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger suffer a season-ending injury. The team’s backup had never thrown a pass for an NFL game, or even dressed for one.
Pittsburgh would ultimately get out to a 1-4 start before going on a 7-1 run, putting itself in a position to be competitive for at least a wildcard spot, even potentially the division race if they could have gotten a bit of help for the Baltimore Ravens, who would ultimately end the season on a 12-game winning streak.
Yet once there, they would bottom out, losing to the Buffalo Bills, the New York Jets, and the Ravens in the finale, all of whom either had a strong season or at least a strong finish. The Jets ended up with a losing record but won something like six of their eight final games, with one of their losses coming to the Ravens.
So did the Steelers ultimately fail to meet expectations? Were their expectations justifiably raised as they continued to win games, or should it have been anticipated that this outcome was wholly possible? After all, they ended the season with an undrafted rookie at quarterback. That has pretty much never before in NFL history been a good thing.