Marvin Lewis And Mike Zimmer Lay Out Three Ways For Steelers To Improve In 2023

The Pittsburgh Steelers were on the cusp of the postseason in 2022, finishing 9-8 after going 7-2 post-bye week. With a crucial offseason coming up, the 33rd Team listed three ways the Steelers can improve in 2023.

The article was written by former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and his former defensive coordinator in Mike Zimmer, who also served as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. The two said that the continued growth of Kenny Pickett, an improved rushing attack, and addressing defensive explosiveness were three ways for the Steelers to improve.

Pickett settled in as the season went on in 2022 after struggling with turnovers throughout his first few games. Lewis said he thought the Steelers were conservative with the rookie quarterback in 2022.

“I do think that they were, they were conservative. I think the fact that he missed time with the concussion. He came back and so forth, and that’s kind of, he never really quite was able to stay in rhythm.”

Pickett did miss a game and a half with a concussion, but he didn’t miss a beat in his return from the second, as he led back-to-back game-winning drives against the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens in Weeks 15 and 16. With a full offseason to prepare as a starter, Pickett should take a step forward assuming he’s able to stay healthy. Once he settled in and the run game got going in the second half, the Steelers played like one of the best teams in the league.

Harris dealt with a Lisfranc injury early in the season which limited his effectiveness, but once he got healthier and the team’s run blocking improved, the Steelers were able to lean on their rushing attack and take pressure off their rookie quarterback. Presumably, both Pickett and Harris are going to be better next season which should lead to improvement in 2023.

When it comes to addressing defensive explosiveness, Lewis implied the team needs more sack production going forward.

“Defensively we know how good they’ve been over time, but T.J. Watt missed time. They had Alex Highsmith come through with 14.5 sacks and Cameron Heyward had 10.5 sacks, but the defense was not as explosive as it has been,” Lewis wrote.

The Steelers had splash plays on defense in 2022, as they led the league in interceptions. But their streak of 50+ sacks a season ended this year, and a big reason for that is the loss of Watt for seven games after he tore his pectoral late in the team’s Week 1 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Their lack of EDGE depth ended up being an issue, as trade acquisition Malik Reed offered little and was a healthy scratch by the time the year ended. Jamir Jones, who the team re-acquired as a free agent in the preseason was also a limited factor. Addressing EDGE depth is going to be a priority for the Steelers this offseason, either through the draft or free agency. One name to watch is former New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns EDGE Chase Winovich as Dave Bryan laid out recently.

With three picks in the top-50 of the NFL Draft and the ability to create cap space to add depth, the Steelers are well-positioned to make the necessary moves to get back in the postseason in 2023. If Pickett can take that next step and the run game continued the upward trajectory they showed in the second half of 2022, the Steelers should compete for the top spot in the AFC North and look to make some noise in the postseason.

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