So far this season the Pittsburgh Steelers have the been second best passing offense in the NFL, playing their worst football in the fourth quarter, getting solid play from their offensive line, and actually throwing to their tight end.
So...who are the Steelers really?
First of all, the Steelers are a more talented team then they were last year. They have more potential as well.
- Mike Wallace is better and has more upside than Nate Washington.
- Rashard Mendenhall gives the Steelers a fresh star in the run game, absent last season.
- Lawrence Timmons is more explosive than Larry Foote and is learning to be as consistent.
- William Gay is just as good as Bryant McFadden.
- Heath Miller is now a top five tight end.
- The offensive line is now good despite almost the exact same personnel from last year.
All of these are true, but just ask Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder if talent and potential create good teams. Or maybe you should ask their fans, because they don't really see the difference.
While the Steelers have the personnel to be better than last season, they just haven't put together the whole package yet.
From the time he was hired, Coach Mike Tomlin has stressed the importance of team chemistry. Both Tomlin and multiple players have sighted teamwork and overall cohesion as the largest reason they won the Super Bowl last year, particularly the defense.
There is still plenty of time for this team to have their Gettysburg "Remember the Titans Moment," but Denzel Washington doesn't seem to have shown up just yet.
The defense has been picked apart in the fourth quarter multiple times, the offense has been great statistically but very inconsistent, and there have already been multiple mistakes made on Special Teams this season.
Bottom line—the Steelers are a top five team in talent who have yet to take the step into being one of the NFL's top teams.
Where are the Steelers Going?
Last year Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl with the same basic core of players they have this season. While the Titans and Panthers are proving that keeping a core of players doesn't guarantee similar results, the Steelers core makes them Super Bowl contenders automatically.
That being said, they aren't a legitimate Super Bowl team right now. As mentioned before, consistency is the major problem.
Consistency is possibly the most important word in the NFL, maybe in sports.
Without it, talented draft picks turn into busts, preseason favorites miss the playoffs, and stars lose their luster.
To achieve it players run extra repetitions for hours, and coaches try to build team chemistry.
The Steelers will go as far as their consistency or inconsistency allows them.
After watching Coach Tomlin for the last two years and after seeing Ben Roethlisberger develop into one of the best passers and leaders in all of football, it is hard to not see this team making the Wild Card at the very worst.
Based on current performance, potential, and history—it is quite reasonable to expect the Steelers to go deep into the playoffs and be one of a handful of teams competing for the Super Bowl.
However, much to my own chagrin and that of many many Steelers fans, I am sure, I just don't think the Steelers have it this year.
Bottom line—they'll reach the AFC Championship game and lose. They need another year before bringing a seventh Lombardi trophy to the 'Burgh.