The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics 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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: How likely are the Steelers to be a better team in 2022 than in 2021?
The Steelers finished the 2021 regular season with a 9-7-1 record before being roundly beaten by the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wildcard Round of the playoffs, 42-21, one of their worst losses in playoff history by point differential.
The team the Steelers field in 2022 can, theoretically, be better. But will they be? How likely is that? Given the number of young players—especially rookies—who played critical roles last year, there is reasonable expectation of growth. It’s hard to imagine the run game not being better, for example.
Getting Tyson Alualu back along the defensive line will be a big upgrade for the run defense. They should also have a much clearer picture about what they will have at inside linebacker, with the resources this offseason to address it, and they could have Stephon Tuitt back as well up front, which would be huge.
But they could lose some key starters in the secondary, and, of course, there is no guarantee that they are able to add a quarterback this offseason who can give them in 2022 as much as Ben Roethlisberger did in his final season a year ago.
With that said, I’m not nearly as cynical as many others often tend to be when it comes to Pittsburgh’s near-future prospects, and I certainly can imagine a reasonable scenario in which they can go 10-7 or even 11-6 and make the postseason—and at least be competitive for a round or two. Their schedule won’t be any harder than last year’s.