After watching the Steelers last season, you could see the growing pains of a young team.
In a recent tweet from Warren Sharp he outlined the amount of snaps played by players age 25 or younger. Unsurprisingly, Pittsburgh is near the top of the list.
The team had the second most snaps from players under the age of 25 in the league signifying a massive change from years past. Fresh faces like Kenny Pickett now take over for grizzly veterans Yinzers have come to love like Ben Roethlisberger.
Outside of Pickett, many of Pittsburgh’s most important contributors are 25 years of age or younger going into the 2023 season. George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, Najee Harris, and Alex Highsmith are just a few players who meet that threshold. In fact, the oldest offensive starter for the Steelers last year was just 26 years old. Add on the fact that the team is primed to add more young, starter-caliber players in this draft with two top-32 selections, and it’s easy to see a youth movement is underway in Pittsburgh.
With youth comes growth and if the back half of last season is any indication of where the team is headed, the Steelers are on a good path. After a lackluster start, the team won seven of their remaining nine games, vying for a playoff spot down the stretch of the year. Unfortunately, that did not come to fruition, but head coach Mike Tomlin could see development in his team during that run.
“There are really probably some positive consequences for that as we move forward,” Tomlin said following the team’s comeback win against the Las Vegas Raiders. “There’s growth, collective growth associated with that as you move forward. It’s a place to hang your hat. That knowledge of being able to get things done in that way I think is significant for individuals and collectives.”
With a full offseason for the team’s young players to mesh and understand the nuances of the playbook, you can assume more growth will be on the horizon for the team. Does that mean a shot at the playoffs? Well, if the Steelers continue to show signs of improvement, the roadmap certainly looks promising.
Outside of their divisional opponents, the Steelers play several teams in transition such as the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans. All, on paper, are winnable games for a team ready to make a jump from mediocrity.
Will they take that preverbal jump? Only time will tell, but if Oscar Wilde is correct and age comes with wisdom, the Steelers should be geniuses in 2023.