The words Pittsburgh Steelers and underdog typically don’t go together, but throughout the 2021 season that might just be the case.
That might not be the case from a betting perspective, but it feels like the Steelers have been counted out time and time again in 2020 and early on in the 2021 season for a number of reasons, largely centering around the age of their quarterback and the number of new faces throughout the roster.
The underdog mentality can be good to embrace, as it brings teams closer and unites them faster than other teams. That’s what Steelers’ fifth-year receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is counting on this season, stating in a one-on-one Q&A with CBS Sports that the Steelers are embracing the underdog role.
“Before every season, people usually put us as one of the top 10 teams in the league. This year, we were ranked one of the lowest because of all the new pieces we’ve got,” Smith-Schuster said to CBS Sports. “For us, a lot of people don’t actually know what we’re made of. You can say that we’re the underdogs this season because of how hard our schedule is, us having a new (offensive coordinator), all that’s brand new. We’re not the big dogs. Usually we’re the big dogs.
“Yeah, I love being the underdog. It’s something new for me. It’s something new for the Steelers. It definitely makes me hungrier to win. Makes us hungrier to win.”
I find it hard to believe that being the underdog makes one team or player “hungrier” to win, per se, but I love the mentality that the Steelers and Smith-Schuster are adopting, playing with a chip on their shoulder early on in the 2021 season.
It remains to be seen if the Steelers will actually play better and win more games because they’ve embraced that underdog mentality (if that can even be measured), but it is something new for the Steelers. It’s been a long, long time since the Steelers were seemingly counted out before the season even started with Roethlisberger under center. That doesn’t feel like it’s the case this season, which could see the Steelers shut out the noise and really embrace that underdog role, going on a bit of a revenge tour this season.