Despite national pessimism, Pittsburgh is a lot closer to contending than many would believe.
Going into the 2023 offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers were left with great excitement and legitimate skepticism. They had just rattled off seven wins out of their last nine games under Kenny Pickett, albeit embattled offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s philosophical approach. They missed the playoffs by only a field goal kicked by the Miami Dolphins over the New York Jets late in the 4th quarter, yet made significant strides towards the finish line.
A few months have passed, and it’s probably safe to say that there is far more optimism surrounding the team than previously. This was a crucial first offseason for rookie general manager Omar Khan. It was a make-or-break time to improve the roster and depth chart by week 1.
Surely enough, the “Khan Artist” broke the bank when it came to the number of transactions well-liked by fans made thus far. GM of the Year awards aren’t handed out in May, but there’s a lot to like about how the team is being assembled for the long run.
On paper, we’re looking at an indefinitely improved roster. It’s hard not to believe they’re better than the nine-win team from last year. The trenches were made a priority by Khan and Assistant general manager Andy Wiedl, and they weren’t messing around in the process.
Broderick Jones, Isaac Seumalo, and Nate Herbig complete a massive overhaul of the offensive line with James Daniels, Mason Cole, and Chukwuma Okorafor already in the fold. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren will be running with much more ease.
Defensively, helping out Cameron Heyward in his latter years was not to be overlooked. Keanu Benton, Armon Watts, Breiden Fehoko, and the emergence of DeMarvin Leal all will make contributions to a stronger defensive line.
Skill position players aren’t to be forgotten either. 2nd-year quarterback Kenny Pickett will have more weapons at his disposal in the fall. Allen Robinson and Darnell Washington help form a formidable receiver corps alongside George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Pat Freiermuth, and Calvin Austin III. The more options for your franchise guy, the better he’ll be set up for success.
The Linebacker and secondary situations were a bit bleak after an eventful season defined by inconsistencies and flaws. Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Tanner Muse, and Markus Golden will undoubtedly provide better depth up front. Mark Robinson is another name to watch who might break out in 2023.
Joey Porter Jr is a household name for his relation to Joey Porter Sr, former Steeler great. But that’s not the only thing he will bring to a secondary in dire need of reinforcements. Patrick Peterson, Keanu Neal, Chandon Sullivan, and Corey Trice all are notable yet impactful additions. MInkah Fitzpatrick, Damonte Kazee, and Levi Wallace currently reside in very valuable roles.
Coaching staff changes are commonplace in the NFL, but for the Steelers, they should not be forgotten at all and perhaps might bode well for them under Mike Tomlin. Offensive Assistant Coach Glenn Thomas, Assistant Quarterbacks Coach David Corley, Inside Linebackers Coach Aaron Curry, Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander, and Defensive Quality Control Coach Jason Brooks were the newest hires to a staff known to be below the average size. The new coaches should make a difference in aiding Tomlin back to the postseason.
Overall, there’s little reason to think this roster will not improve upon their 2022 win total heading into the 2023 regular season in September. The biggest factors that will define the next season will be 3 names; Kenny Pickett (can he take the next step forward?), Matt Canada (will Canada do better in play calling?), and Mike Tomlin (can Tomlin coach Steelers to a better start?). All that aside, the hype will continue to build as we inch closer to Training Camp and Preseason.