Major Changes Steelers Must Make After 2-6 Start to 2022 NFL Season

Joe TanseyNovember 2, 2022

Major Changes Steelers Must Make After 2-6 Start to 2022 NFL Season

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 30, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers need to accept the reality that they are fighting for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft and not a playoff position.

    The on-field reality was apparent yet again in Week 8, when they were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles.

    The Steelers began to wave the white flag on the season by trading Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears on Tuesday.

    A season with double-digit losses is not the norm in Pittsburgh, but it can be accepted because of the pieces in place.

    Kenny Pickett has time to gain experience over the next few months to be ready when the team makes a charge at the postseason again in 2022.

    The Pittsburgh offense contains some other young players who need to work with the quarterback over the next nine games to ensure the 2022 campaign is the only time the Steelers are this close to the top pick in the draft for the next decade.

Make Total Mindset Shift with Eyes on 2023

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: The Pittsburg Steelers observe the National Anthem before the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 30, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Surrendering on a season in Week 9 is not what anyone in Pittsburgh is used to, but that is the mentality shift that needs to take place within the franchise and fanbase for the next nine games.

    Pittsburgh is not good enough to compete for an AFC playoff spot, and it will be better off being competitive and losing to add a top draft pick to the roster in 2023.

    The Steelers offense has scored 20 or more points on three occasions, and their defense has been gashed for over 30 points in two of the last four contests.

    The bye week is the perfect time for Pittsburgh to hit the reset button and focus on development of young players, rather than an unrealistic playoff push.

    The Steelers are already three games back in the AFC North and sit 15th out of 16 teams in the conference standings.

    Of course, Mike Tomlin and his staff should try to win every game left, but if the team loses, it has to be able to take positives from the performances of its young players in order to build a foundation for 2023.

Involve George Pickens as Much as Possible

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: George Pickens #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 30, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    The Chase Claypool trade has opened up the No. 2 wide receiver spot for George Pickens to occupy.

    The 21-year-old showed flashes of his potential in the first eight weeks, and he should now receive an abundance of targets from Kenny Pickett.

    An argument could be made for Pickens to even be the No. 1 wideout in certain games over Diontae Johnson to see how he handles the pressure of that role.

    The rookie had six or more targets in a five-game stretch from Weeks 3-7, but he was held without a catch in Week 8 by the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Pickett does not have to force the ball to Pickens on every play, but the Steelers should spend the bye week drawing up ways they can get the wideout more involved.

    If the Steelers keep losing, at least the franchise and fanbase can fall back on the individual success of young players, like Pickens, to generate hope for 2023.

Rotate Najee Harris Out of Backfield in Certain Games

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 30, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Najee Harris has not been good this season.

    The 24-year-old is averaging 3.3 yards per carry and does not have a single-game rushing yard total over 75 yards.

    Harris' ineffectiveness is part of the reason why the offense has not been successful with Pickett at the helm yet.

    If Pittsburgh focuses on 2023, it needs to preserve Harris in certain games so that he isn't worn out in meaningless ones.

    The Steelers have Jaylen Warren in reserve, and it would be nice for the team to see what the rookie can do in an elevated role in parts of the season.

    Swapping in Warren for Harris as the starting running back may not happen until the Steelers are 100 percent out of the playoff conversation, but it should occur soon.

    Pittsburgh could benefit greatly from the situation, as it would rest Harris' legs a bit and potentially find a running mate for him in the backfield in Warren.

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