Despite missing the playoffs last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers ended the season strong, winning seven of their last nine games as rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett began getting more and more comfortable playing in the NFL. After a strong offseason, the Steelers are trying to return to the playoffs and win their first postseason game since the 2016 season. Despite the strong offseason and end to last season, not everyone thinks the team is ready to make noise. One person who does believes in the 2023 Steelers though is former NFL head coach Herm Edwards.
Edwards was on ESPN’s NFL Live today and, in a clip posted to Twitter, was asked who he thinks is a team that is not expected to make the playoffs but will.
“The Pittsburgh Steelers, and I go off the momentum they gained last year,” Edwards said. “When you think about their quarterback, Kenny Pickett. Threw a bunch of interceptions early, in the last eight weeks of the season he only threw one. So, this team gained confidence. I think they have a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Tomlin, he has the pulse of this football team. They play hard for him, he’s a great motivator and they’ve got some talent on defense too. So I think this team is primed, and we talk about Cincinnati, the Ravens all the time. Don’t forget about the Pittsburgh Steelers; they’re just sitting there. Everybody talks, Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s their turn to make a run now.”
The Steelers used the offseason to improve their team and continue to build their identity. They added to their offensive line to help their rushing attack spearheaded by Najee Harris while also helping give more time for Pickett to find open receivers. They added wide receiver Allen Robinson II to give Pickett a quality slot receiver, something that he really didn’t have last year.
Pittsburgh improved down the stretch last year, but now teams will have more tape on Pickett. They will have time to do deep dives into his strengths and weaknesses to pick him and the Steelers apart, so for Pittsburgh to improve Pickett will have to as well. This offseason he has put the work in, but the team will need him to throw more touchdowns than interceptions.
The Steelers have an elite defense and a good run game. If Pickett can take a step and the run game can be consistently effective it is not out of the realm of possibility for Pittsburgh to win the division. The Steelers have a ton of talent, and sure they may not have the names that the Cincinnati Bengals have, but the way general manager Omar Khan and head coach Mike Tomlin have built the team can cause problems for almost anyone in the NFL.
The game isn’t played on paper though. The Steelers must show up if they want to get back to playoffs and win a playoff game for the first time in over five years.