2023 Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 Season: Things to Look Out For

With every passing Sunday we crawl a little closer to kickoff. As a fan of the game, and a die hard Steelers fan, there are several things that I am particularly excited to see unfold on the field. From new faces to the familiar ones, this season promises growth and development in a lot of facets for Steelers enthusiasts and I am excited of the new era that is emerging. 

Implementing Calvin Austin III into the Offense

One player that has generated a lot of buzz during the offseason is Calvin Austin III. The Steelers acquired Austin in the 2022 Draft, but he was unable to play at all last season due to injury. Known for his speed and agility, Austin has the potential to be a game-changer. I can’t wait to see how the coaching staff utilizes his skills to stretch the field and create big plays, something the Steelers have lacked.

Defenses will have to respect the edge as the threat to contain Austin’s speed, slowing down edge rushers which could aid down hill run game further.

Furthermore, Austin’s agility and quickness in college made him a threat in the short passing game as well. His ability to make defenders miss in open space can turn a simple screen pass into a big gain. This adds another dimension to the offense and gives the coaching staff more options in their play-calling. Whether it’s utilizing him on deep routes, jet sweeps, or quick slants, Austin’s versatility will keep opposing defenses guessing.

Kenny Pickett’s Growth and Development

A obvious major driver of success for the 2023 Steelers season will come down to the growth and development of Kenny Pickett. During his rookie campaign, Pickett showed exponential growth in the process of flipping the Steelers season from 2-6 to a strong finish at 9-8. 

As he steps into the starting role from day one of training camp (starting at the end of the month), all eyes will be on him to see if the path towards offensive stability is in motion. 

Pickett’s growth and development as a quarterback is not only a matter of physical skills and on-field performance, but also a reflection of his mindset and work ethic. Throughout his college career, Pickett has demonstrated a relentless drive to improve and a willingness to put in the extra hours of practice. 

His commitment to mastering the intricacies of the game has earned him the respect of his coaches and teammates. One particular area where Pickett has shown significant growth is his decision-making ability and his overall comfort at the position.

In college, he displayed a knack for making quick and accurate reads, often finding the open receiver in tight coverage. This skill has translated well to the NFL, as Pickett has consistently made smart choices with the football. His ability to read defenses and make split-second decisions will be crucial to his success as the starting quarterback.

Another aspect of Pickett’s development that has caught the attention of fans and analysts alike is his poise under pressure. Despite being a rookie, he has shown remarkable composure in the face of a pass rush, stepping up in the pocket and delivering accurate throws. Our last impression from last season was two 4th quarter game-winning drives against the Raiders and the Ravens the last week of the season.

This level of calmness and confidence is rare in a young quarterback and bodes well for his future as a leader of the Steelers’ offense.

The combination of his physical skills, mental acuity, and leadership qualities stole the hearts of Steelers fans late in the season and we are all hoping he can simply build what he was able to put together to conclude last season.

The Overhaul at the Middle Linebacker Position

One area where the Steelers made significant changes during the offseason is the middle linebacker position. With the departures of Robert Spillane, Devin Bush, and Myles Jack, the Steelers conducted a new overhaul of personnel as that group last year did NOT produce A SINGLE TURNOVER. 

Even with bringing in Cole Holcomb from Washington and Elandon Roberts from Miami, this is still probably the worst position group on the Steelers defense. General Manager Omar Khan watched the run game and the inability to generate turnovers from this group forced the Steelers front office to at least provide a band-aid and change the positions group identity.

Personally, I do not see this as a risk, but a quick repeal and place to see if they can elevate the position group quickly. Three out the door, two new faces and the Steelers allowing Mark Robinson to get more reps, especially in the run defense. Mike Tomlin raved about Robinson down the stretch and we may see his reps increase early on this season.

As the season progresses, fans and analysts eagerly await the middle linebacker’s performance. Their play early on will determine whether Omar Khan’s band aid is effective or if the Steelers front office will have to explore more aggressive options in the trade market.  

The Tweaked Offensive Line

An often underrated aspect of a successful football team is a strong and cohesive offensive line. This season, the Steelers made some adjustments to their offensive line, but, it remains as one of the question marks in the past few seasons, due to the lack of ability to consistently open up running lanes and protect the quarterback.

The Steelers certainly spent their offseason continuing the cementation of that position group, especially on the left side of the line. Trading up to draft Broderick Jones from Georgia, who has definitely taken a lot of reps for the National Champion Bulldogs. 

They also brought in some veteran experience during Free Agency in Isaac Seumalo. Just playing in the Super Bowl last year besides All-Pro Center Jason Kelce, Seumalo is credited for being extremely smart on the field, nasty and physical. GOOD. He will fit right into Steelers Culture.

However, the Steelers’ coaching staff remains optimistic about the revamped offensive line. They believe that the combination of talent, experience, and versatility will ultimately lead to a stronger and more effective unit. The coaching staff has been working diligently with the offensive linemen, focusing on building trust and improving communication. 

If they let someone run free in the A-gap to concuss Kenny Pickett one more time, I will get personally involved by calling Mike Tomlin to beg for the O-Line coaching position. This group will have to become better as the season goes and they build cohesiveness through more reps together.

New Cornerbacks

Anything will beat being on the NFL Top Plays for getting cooked in the secondary. The Bills and Eagles had an absolute field day against the Steelers defense; and in games TJ Watt was out, the defense lacked the pass rush to bail them out.

Now, out with Stevie Nelson and Ahkello Witherspoon and bring in Patrick Peterson and Joey Porter Jr. We bow to Omar Khan. The trade that is now Chase Claypool for the 32nd Overall pick, Joey Porter Jr. will be one for the record books. Good to have a Porter name in Black and Yellow again.

Just like the offensive line game plan, they brought in a veteran alongside an exciting rookie and we hope that combination will ultimately bring success.

After seeing another position group get exposed last year, the Steelers decided this change of personnel is appropriate especially when having to face opponents such as Jamarr Chase, Tee Higgins, Odell Beckham Jr., Amari Cooper and many other electric receivers twice a season.

Mike Tomlin Contract Extension

Bow to my lord. I am awaiting the announcement of Mike Tomlin’s contract extension with great enthusiasm. I’ve been watching more interview content of his lately and I do truly appreciate that he is our guy for the J.O.B. 

He is currently under contract through the 2024 season, but the Steelers have a history of extending their head coaches with two years left on their deals. It is speculated in the media that an extension would be announced the day training camp begins.

Recognized as one of the league’s top coaches, but also a leader of men. Tomlin has a 163-93-2 record in the regular season and has led the Steelers to two Super Bowls, winning one. He is one of the most successful head coaches in the NFL, and the Steelers are likely to want to keep him around.

If an extension is signed, Tomlin’s tenure with the Steelers will extend even further. He will continue to instill his winning culture and lead the pursuit of the Steelers 7th Super Bowl.

This season will be an opportunity to witness Tomlin’s ongoing impact and see how he guides the Steelers through the ups and downs of a challenging NFL season. The overall changes in the middle linebacker position, offensive line, and cornerback unit further add intrigue to the season. And, of course, the continuation of Mike Tomlin’s leadership brings stability and optimism for the team’s future. As a fan, I can’t wait to witness how these elements come together this 2023 season.


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