The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be in a bit of uncharted waters under head coach Mike Tomlin currently.
Sitting at 1-4 with a gauntlet of games ahead before the Week 9 bye week, the Steelers realistically could be a putrid 1-7 by the time the bye week roles around, putting in jeopardy the impressive 15-year streak of no losing seasons for Tomlin in his Hall of Fame career.
The Steelers aren’t blinking and realize that it won’t take one day, one week, one win to climb out of the situation that they find themselves in. That said, the panic meter on the outside looking in is rather high for the black and gold. According to CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin, the Steelers’ panic meter sits at a six out of nine Omar Eppses, which is a bit tongue in cheek since the actor and Tomlin look strikingly alike.
“It’s tough to say if we should be panicked about Kenny Pickett on any level just yet. He’s made only one start, after all. But I think it’s definitely time to start panicking about the whole “Mike Tomlin has never finished a season below 0.500″ thing,” Dubin writes regrind the panic meter for the black and gold. “Pittsburgh is 1-4 and has the 11th-toughest remaining strength of schedule, according to Pro Football Focus. T.J. Watt is expected to return this season, but not for at least several more weeks. The run game looks atrocious. Unless Pickett is about to go on a run that makes him the no-doubt Offensive Rookie of the Year, this team is going to struggle to get to 9 wins (or 8 wins and a tie).”
Coming into the year, the general belief was that the Steelers wouldn’t somehow find a way to 9-8, ensuring that Tomlin’s streak stayed intact and the Steelers’ transitional year was a relative success. Turns out, that might have been a bit too optimistic for the Steelers.
Of course, injuries have ravaged the team this season, especially on the defensive side of the football. The offense has also struggled to put up points and has generally looked like a disaster under second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada, raising concerns about the future of the Steelers on that side of the football while also causing the Steelers to make the switch to Pickett under center.
At 1-4, things won’t get any easier moving forward for the black and gold, as Dubin points out the Steelers have the 11th-toughest remaining schedule, per Pro Football Focus, featuring the likes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles before the bye week, not to mention matchups with the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals down the stretch.
If the Steelers head into the bye week at 1-7, that would mean the Steelers would have to find a way to go 7-1-1 or 8-1 at best to avoid a losing season. Based off of the early returns from the Steelers through five weeks, that’s an incredibly tall task, even if the likes of T.J. Watt returns from injury and resumes his high level of play, and other pieces like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, Larry Ogunjobi and more shake off their injury issues early in the year to get back to a consistent level of play.
Things aren’t looking great right now for the Steelers. They won’t panic right now, but things will get worse before they get better this season. At that point, it might be too late.