Despite the signifiant amount of changes the Pittsburgh Steelers underwent this offseason on the roster and in the front office, the Steelers still remain “stuck in limbo” ahead of the 2022 NFL season, according to Pro Football Focus’s Sam Monson.
Monson, who ranked the 32 NFL teams into tiers for his power rankings Monday, placed the Steelers outside of the top 20 and into the “stuck in limbo” tier at No. 21 overall, in large part due to the quarterback situation the Steelers find themselves in.
After watching Ben Roethlisberger retire, the Steelers went right to work at the position, adding Mitch Trubisky in free agency and drafting Pitt star quarterback Kenny Pickett at No. 20 overall in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. On top of the additions of the two quarterbacks, Pittsburgh added a lot offensively, drafting receivers George Pickens and Calvin Austin III, and tight end/H-back Connor Heyward, signing free agent offensive linemen James Daniels and Mason Cole, and adding significant pieces to the defense like linebacker Myles Jack, cornerback Levi Wallace and defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi after the retirement of Stephon Tuitt.
Still, the Steelers have some questions in Monson’s eyes, questions that might never be answered in the 2022 season, which has the Steelers stuck in that limbo position between attempting to compete and still being a ways away from true contenders.
“The Steelers have been perennial contenders for the duration of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. Their quarterback since 2004, Big Ben retired this offseason after never finishing a season with a losing record,” Monson writes regarding the Steelers’ placement at No. 21 overall in his power rankings. “Now, Pittsburgh needs to sustain that success with a combination of Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett at quarterback. Either player will massively change the offense that had the fastest average time to throw in 2021.”
The Steelers should be better offensively in 2022 compared to last season, as Trubisky and Pickett bring added mobility and better arm strength to the table compared to a late-career Roethlisberger. That alone should help second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada really implement the offensive scheme he envisions after being relatively hamstrung last season in Roethlisberger’s final year.
While all the attention remains on the quarterback position, and rightfully so, the true success or failure of the Steelers in 2022 will come down to the offensive line, which the Steelers reshaped in the offseason with the additions of Cole and Daniels, who should solidify the interior of the Steelers’ offensive line under first-year line coach Pat Meyer.
If the Steelers’ offensive line can be league average, the run-heavy scheme under Canada should thrive with workhorse Najee Harris in the backfield, taking pressure off of Trubisky and Pickett to be the perceived saviors of the black and gold. A physical rushing attack and a smothering defense could be enough to send the Steelers back to the postseason once again, putting that “stuck in limbo” label where it belongs: in the trash.