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A Letter From the Editor: Where to go from here

The other day I was scrolling through Twitter/X, it’s part of the job, and I saw Najee Harris speaking to the media after practice. The clip was just over 5 minutes in length, and Harris answered questions about everything from his workload in the preseason to the outlook of the offense heading into the regular season.

But that wasn’t what stuck out to me. It was when Harris compared the 2023 preseason to the 2022 preseason, and the difference between the two.

Both preseasons resulted in a 3-0 record, but Harris talked about how different these two preseasons were from an offensive perspective. And he couldn’t be more spot-on.

Think back to 2022 for a second.

The Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since 2004, Mitch Trubisky was tabbed as the starter, and the offense was riddled with new pieces between draft picks and free agent acquisitions.

There were spurts of dominance, but the awesome moments vs. the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 were left by the wayside in Week 2 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars in Duval County.

The end result was an offense which was sporadic, and downright inconsistent. It wasn’t until Kenny Pickett became the starter, and after the bye week, when the ultra-conservative approach helped the team win 7 of their last 9, and four in a row to finish the season.

It was good, but far from great.

Now, fast forward to 2023 and the preseason which just concluded. Talk about a night-and-day difference between the two years, and offenses. Now, Pickett is the entrenched starter, and leader, of the offense. New additions of Isaac Seumalo are meshing well with former newbies in Mason Cole and James Daniels. And those rookies last season, Pickett and George Pickens, are preparing to let their careers launch into a new orbit.

The success the Steelers offense has seen this preseason is almost unparalleled. What more could anyone want? The starting offense did nothing but complete every drive into a touchdown, and they did so in a variety of ways. Big plays, key passes, running the football, red-one success. You name it, they did it. The only time Pressley Harvin III was called into duty was to hold an extra point attempt for Chris Boswell.

As Harris immediately followed up in his media session after comparing the two preseasons was the question many are asking at this juncture of the 2023 season…

Where do the Steelers go from here?

That’s a difficult question to answer, especially considering some of this success is unmarked territory for Matt Canada and company. But maybe the answer isn’t blazing a new trail, but just keeping on the one they’re on.

The Steelers offense has been versatile throughout the small sample size of the preseason. They’ve been able to run the ball effectively both inside and outside, they’ve been able to move the ball through the air to a variety of targets and locations on the field, and they’ve had explosive plays which have added a new element to the offense which hasn’t existed in years.

The challenge for the Steelers won’t be finding new wrinkles, but how they can continue on this path. Can they continue to meet these new expectations? Before anyone jumps to conclusions, be sure to know there will be bumps in the road. Not every drive will result in a touchdown, even the most optimistic fan knows that, but if the Steelers offense can deliver more points and move the ball the way they did in the preseason at times, it will be a huge step forward for this group.

Where do they go from here? Hopefully the answer is onward and upward. The bar has been set high, but for the first time in a long time, the Steelers offense seems to be moving into the new era of NFL football. Can it keep pace with the high-powered offenses around the league? That will be one of the more intriguing aspects of 2023 to watch, and I’m here for it.

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