With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: The Las Vegas Steelers win total over/under for the 2022 season of 7.5 wins is an insult.
Explanation: The Steelers have never finished with fewer than eight wins in a season during head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure. Their last losing record was in 2003, but, of course, that was the year before they drafted Ben Roethlisberger, who just retired. Would it be so shocking if their first losing season in decades comes in their first season without their Hall of Fame quarterback?
It is an insult to presume that the Steelers will lose 10 games when this is a team that went 8-8, and 8-6 without Roethlisberger, in 2019. Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph pieced together an 8-6 run, and they were even 8-3 before things fell apart at the end of the year.
The quarterback room is certainly better than that 2019 team, and so is the running game, and the wide receiver room. The defense can probably at least be argued to be close to a wash, even if a peak Joe Haden and a healthy rookie Devin Bush is missed. If that team could go 8-6 without Roethlisberger, the duo of Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett is unquestionably going to do better than 7-10. It’s insulting to suggest otherwise.
For as much crap as Roethlisberger gets for his play at the end of his career and how the offense was run because of him, the reality is that he kept the Steelers in almost every game, and he was often the reason that they won. After all, he led seven game-winning drives last season—a year in which they won nine games.
They don’t have that clutch quarterback there anymore. They have a journeyman quarterback now and a rookie with a low ceiling who isn’t ready. Yeah, the running game will be better if everybody stays healthy, but the offensive line isn’t going to be night-and-day different just because they signed a couple of starters, only one of whom could be considered above average.
And they have a secondary full of number two cornerbacks. They have inside linebackers who can’t or won’t get off blocks. They have no depth behind their outside linebackers with fragile groins. And they have an old-man defensive line backed up by mostly nobodies or the injured.
And they play in the toughest division in football. Why would anybody think that this team is above losing? Maybe they do post a winning record, but skepticism is more than warranted in the first week of July. There’s so much this team has to prove to justify a vote of confidence.