If you have followed the Pittsburgh Steelers for more than a minute, then you probably know that The Standard Is the Standard. That more than anything is the creed by which the team is run, to the point where it’s bolted to the walls of the facility.
And the brass have never quibbled about what the standard is. The standard is winning the Super Bowl. They know that they’ve only had six successful seasons in the team’s entire history going back to 1933, because that’s the number of championship trophies they have to display.
You can’t win a Super Bowl without making the playoffs, though, and the Steelers have failed to do so in each of the past two seasons, most recently going 8-8, even though they were at one point 8-5. They faltered with an anemic offense behind rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges, but getting Ben Roethlisberger back would completely change the picture.
Defensive captain Cameron Heyward was doing the media rounds during Super Bowl week yesterday, and one of his stops was for The Zach Gelb Show. He was asked by his host how close he feels the team is right now to making it back to the postseason.
“I don’t think it’s a success just to make the playoffs. We want to make a lot of noise and get to the Super Bowl”, he said. “I think we’re pretty close. We’ve got to have a couple of things bounce our way, and we’ve got to keep a couple guys, but if we can do that, I think we can have a lot of success going forward. Obviously we need Ben to get healthy, and I think he will be, but we’ll see”.
Roethlisberger’s health is by far the biggest and most significant variable. If he is healthy and can play at a championship level—basically, if he can be himself—coming off of a serious elbow injury that limited him to just six quarters, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t have reasonable odds to win the Super Bowl.
Of course, it’s always easier said than done. It’s been nearly a decade since they last competed for a Super Bowl, and a bit longer since they won one, back in 2008. Heyward was still early in his college career at that point. They have only played in a single conference championship since he was drafted.
The standard is the standard, but the reality is the Steelers haven’t approached it often enough lately. That’s almost an inevitability when you have the highest possible expectation for yourself, but nevertheless, if that is the yardstick against which you measure yourself, it’s what you have to own up to.