The Pittsburgh Steelers’ objective in any set of circumstances for every season in which they field a team is to win a Super Bowl. Every significant member of the organization has been on record as stating this on numerous occasions, especially following seasons in which they failed to make the postseason altogether, something they regard as unacceptable.
Despite the hand dealt last season, for example, the Steelers positioned themselves, with three games left in the season, to control their own playoff destiny. Sitting at 8-5 after going on a 7-1 streak, all they had to do was win two of their final three games to secure a playoff berth. They ended up losing all three.
No, they didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger, and all three losses went against the record of rookie undrafted quarterback Devlin Hodges, who was benched in the middle of those three games, but was forced back into action when Mason Rudolph, who was previously benched himself, was injured. But that doesn’t excuse missing the postseason.
Earlier in the week during training camp, Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro gave a blunt assessment of what it was like playing on offense in 2019. “Last year sucked”, he said. “It was not fun to play as an offense. It was pretty terrible. You lose confidence and it just kind of snowballs. Find ways to lose games. You can’t win when your defense is getting five turnovers. Yeah, it was a pretty tough year”.
While Mike Tomlin would not echo the exact sentiment that DeCastro expressed about playing on offense, he would consent to a more general evaluation of the year collectively. “I don’t know if I would have had those choice of words. I agree with his general assessment”, he told reporters on Thursday. “When you are on the outside looking in at the tournament that determines the eventual champion, then that does suck”.
The Steelers are currently on a two-year playoff drought, after making the postseason in four consecutive years—which was preceded by another two-year playoff drought. They were the number two seed in 2017. They advanced to the AFC Championship Game in 2016. Those still fell short of the mark.
“Our goals are clear each and every year, and that is to compete for and ultimately win a world championship”, Tomlin said. “When we are not in that conversation, we absolutely hate it. In regard to this year, I never carry the bags from last year or worry about what transpired in terms of us writing the script for this journey. So, I am singularly focused on that, and I would imagine Dave is as well. I am sure he is just courteously answering questions”.
Courtesy, however, is reserved only for interviews. The Steelers will certainly be playing with a chip on their shoulder, and the player with the biggest chip will be Roethlisberger, who also has the largest capacity to impact their success in the 2020 season.