The Pittsburgh Steelers have surprisingly been one of the better teams in the league over the course of the past month. At least, they have been if you go by wins and losses. You can argue that the quality of opponent they’ve faced of late colors the results, but 3-1 is still 3-1. And winning breeds confidence, which was evidently much needed on this roster.
“We’re quietly developing our swagger right now”, veteran linebacker Myles Jack said on 93.7 The Fan yesterday during an interview with Aditi Kinkhabwala. Swagger that was needed. He said that there was doubt seeping into the locker room during the early rough stretch.
“I said this earlier to guys, because I think when our record kind of got a little lopsided, some guys were like, ‘Are we a bad team?’”, he recounted. “I was like, ‘No, trust me, I’ve been on some bad teams. We’re not bad. We just have to figure out how to win’”.
They have figured out how to win in recent weeks. The offense under quarterback Kenny Pickett put together its first game-winning drive a week before last. On Sunday, complementary football shut the door on the Atlanta Falcons, the offense draining the clock, the punt game pinning them at the two, and then Minkah Fitzpatrick picking off the ball.
“I think closing out these games that we’ve been closing out, even though they’ve been tight, it’s teaching us how to win in those tough circumstances”, Jack said. He’s seeing all of this from the perspective as somebody who was an outsider, having spent the entirety of his career up until this season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
And that’s been helpful for this young and talented but growing team. Because he’s been on some very bad Jaguars teams, teams with little talent, poor coaching, and just no prospects. He knows the difference in feeling between a bad team and a team that’s just not finishing or getting everything out of their talent.
Now the question is where the ceiling is, and how soon they can get close to it. They are still sitting at 5-7 after 12 games even if they have found their winning ways recently. They have virtually no margin for error to have even a chance of sniffing the postseason, and they need a lot of help to get there in the first place.
Most fans have written off this season, something like a business expense, in the hopes that it will ultimately lead to better things in the future. For them, the recent wins have likely been received as a mixed blessing. But it does give us a glimpse of what this team is capable of, and I think there’s value inherent in even that.