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2023 South Side Questions: At Season’s End, Disappointment Or…Relief?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, nearing the end of the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the year. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in the scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: After going 7-2 in the second half of the season, are you disappointed or relieved the Steelers missed the playoffs?

There’s a reason we’re so often reminded that the word ‘fan’ is a truncation of the word fanatic. Sports fandom perhaps, in particular, can bring out fanaticism in us, and with that the complexity of human emotion mixed with the intellect.

For Steelers fans, we’re grappling with the ever-present immediate gratification of watching our team win while at the same time looking out for sustained long-term success. Few held any illusions about them possibly being a championship team in 2022, but they made an exciting playoff push in the second half of the year.

All that got them, in the end, was a draft pick that is probably about 10 spots or so worse than fans were expecting. They went from being 2-6 to finishing the season 7-2. They came up one result short of making the postseason, but now are picking in the late teens instead of in the top 10.

The draft is still a crapshoot even under the best-case circumstances, but it’s always preferable to have higher rather than lower picks. And at least some fans would rather have the top pick every year they don’t win the Super Bowl, with their strict rationalism.

So my question this day is, how are you feeling about the season and how it ended? Even if you were among those hoping that they would tank, did you still feel disappointed when they came up a Dolphins field goal shy of making the playoffs?

I’m guessing a lot of us are feeling a mixture of these emotions of disappointment and relief. Some with more of one than the other, certainly. But many of us took the approach this season that it was all about the development of the young players, Kenny Pickett first and foremost, and building toward the future.

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