The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense, and multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quote with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
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, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Can the Steelers fix their late-season slides and finish the 2021 schedule strong?
Something that we have talked about here recently is the fact that, over the course of the past few years, the Steelers have gone from being one of the strongest teams in December to one of the worst, at least based on record.
Last season, for example, they lost four out of five games played since the start of December, going 12-4 overall, which cost them a bye week. They lost their final three games of the 2019 season, prior to which they were in position to reach the playoffs as the fifth seed. Starting in late November, the Steelers finished the 2018 season on a 2-4 slide, literally missing the postseason, again, by half a game with a 9-6-1 overall record.
In each of these scenarios, their fate would have been dramatically different if they could have simply finished the regular season stronger—more akin to how they had played leading up to that point. They have a particularly difficult final stretch of the season in 2021, however.
With a final stretch that includes two games against the Baltimore Ravens and matchups with the Cleveland Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tennessee Titans, and the Minnesota Vikings, this is a daunting run even without regard to the fact that they have struggled to close out seasons over the course of the past three years. Is there something that they have to fix, or do they simply need to win the games?