The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had a good season so far, sitting at 2-6 as they head into their Week 9 bye. Safety Terrell Edmunds said that the team’s record has head coach Mike Tomlin’s competitive juices boiling, per Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“He’s locked in. He wants us to win. … You can see his competitive juices just boiling because we’re 2-6.”
Obviously, being 2-6 isn’t good enough for a team that should compete in the playoffs every year. This year has been a transition year for the Steelers, with Kenny Pickett replacing Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and changes in the front office with Omar Khan replacing Kevin Colbert. Still, being 2-6 is never good enough in Pittsburgh, and Tomlin’s streak of never finishing below .500 is in serious danger.
Edmunds said he believes the Steelers can play better.
“As a team I feel like we can play a better game. That is something we’re going to focus on this week, focus on what we can do better as a team to play better,” Edmunds said via Teresa Varley of Steelers.com
Back in 2013, after starting out 0-4, the Steelers found themselves sitting at 2-6 following a blowout loss to the New England Patriots in Week 8 in a game where three Patriots pass-catchers, including Aaron Dobson, went over 120 receiving yards. Following that embarrassing loss, that team won three straight games and battled to get 8-8 on the season. With a 17th game, it’ll be impossible for Pittsburgh to finish .500, meaning they’ll have to go 7-2 out of the bye to finish with a winning record. Even though Pittsburgh’s schedule after the bye isn’t nearly as daunting as it was before the bye, it would be pretty freaking hard for this team to go 7-2, especially given that they have four divisional games left.
Obviously, Tomlin and the Steelers want to finish the year as strong as possible, and there are definitely some opportunities to grab some wins in the second half of the year. With matchups against struggling NFC South teams in the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, in addition to games against the Indianapolis Colts and Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh’s second-half schedule isn’t quite the gauntlet its first half was.
The hope at this point is for Pittsburgh to find a way to churn out four or five more wins and for the offense to pick things up to help aid rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett’s development. That’s pretty much all the Steelers can ask for at this point. The return of T.J. Watt will help a defense that’s struggled to get to the quarterback, but the offense has to put up more points than it has so far. If both those things can happen, then this team will hopefully more closely resemble the one that upset the Cincinnati Bengals to open the year.