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A Letter From the Editor: The biggest concern about the 2023 Steelers

Anyone who has ever listened to one of my “Let’s Ride” podcasts knows how much I absolutely despise the word “potential” when it comes to sports.

During my 13 years as a head high school boys lacrosse coach in Maryland, people in and around the community would always ask me, “Hey coach! How’s the team looking this year?” My response would be honest, but sometimes would involve this dreaded p-word.

“Not bad. We have a lot of potential.”

I would cringe as the words left my mouth.

Why would a word like that every cause such a reaction from a coach? Simple. Potential isn’t a guarantee. It’s a pre-conceived notion of the success you could have. Nothing is guaranteed. Several of my teams which were brimming with potential never lived up to the hype, and fell flat when it mattered most.

There are a lot of people out there who are suggesting the Steelers are a team very much filled with potential. You look at the free agent moves by Omar Khan and company, the 2023 NFL Draft class, and the expected jump by players like Kenny Pickett, George Pickens and a new-look offensive line. Throw in the veteran-laden defense and pundits across the NFL landscape are painting a bright future for the black-and-gold.

Quite the difference from past years when everyone was screaming gloom and doom.

While I truly believe this 2023 Steelers team has a ridiculous amount of potential, I do have to ask myself what the potential concerns, or pitfalls, could await the team. There are many, but what would be the biggest?

Let’s talk about what I view as the potential concerns for the 2023 Steelers:

  • Young players don’t make the expected jump
  • Play calling on the offensive side of the ball
  • Age starts to creep up on aging veterans
  • New players don’t gel with new environment
  • Injuries

While there might be more minor concerns for the team, at least in my opinion, these are the major players for what could derail the upcoming season. But what tops the list? Which concern is the biggest?

For me, I am first going to throw out the concern of injury. That is not only unavoidable, but something which can’t be controlled. In talking about things which can be controlled, the largest concern for me is the very first bullet listed above.

The young players not taking the expected step forward.

Just think about the players who are expected to not only improve, but have a huge role on the team in 2023:

  • Kenny Pickett
  • George Pickens
  • Connor Heyward
  • Calvin Austin III

Just to name a few. Then, when you talk about narratives, the expectations which are already being thrust upon the rookie class and you can see how if things don’t pan out for these players, what are the Steelers left with?

Let’s just say a season brimming with potential could come crashing down in a very quick fashion.

Don’t confuse this message with me predicting or projecting a 2023 Steelers demise.

Far from it.

Instead, there is reason for the Steelers “potential” to not live up to the hype. Then again, just like some of my teams I coached, they could live up to the hype and make some serious noise.

Let’s hope for the best in 2023.


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