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If 2023 taught me anything, it’s to temper my excitement towards the Steelers

I’ll be brutally honest here. Leading up to the 2023 season, I bought in.

I mean all the way.

Hook, line, and sinker.

While the 2023-2024 Pittsburgh Steelers season wasn’t a bust, it certainly didn’t live up to the mental hype I had continually gathered in my head.

Shame on me.

But I know I wasn’t alone. The 2022 season ended on a high note with the Steelers winning 7 of their last 9, and 4 in a row to just barely miss on a postseason berth. Kenny Pickett, who didn’t even have a full season under his belt yet in the NFL, made us all think the Steelers had gone from one franchise quarterback to the next.

If that wasn’t enough, videos of a “thicker” Pickett throwing footballs to players in shorts had us brimming with excitement and the Steelers to report back to training camp. While the 2024 NFL Draft added talent to the roster, excitement for the 2023 season was nearing a boiling point.

Training camp was filled with big moments for Pickett where those in attendance, and those covering the team, saw just how improved he was from Year 1 to Year 2. Big things were coming. Then the pristine preseason began. How can we forget? It wasn’t just a 3-0 preseason record, but how the starting offense never punted. Not even once. All they did was repeatedly execute big plays which resulted in touchdowns.

At this juncture the hype surrounding the Steelers was at a fever pitch.

Then the regular season came, and the San Francisco 49ers didn’t just deliver a gut punch, they delivered a knock out blow to the hype and positivity surrounding the team. Doubt started to creep in, and a steady decline in play, mainly by Pickett, saw fans starting to sour on what was once a promising season.

We all know how the season ended, with Mason Rudolph getting the team to the 10-win mark and into the playoffs, but if last offseason taught me anything it is to temper my expectations based on the “hype machine”. But if I’m continuing the brutal honesty here, last season taught me to not even go all-in when training camp and the preseason begins.

Why? Because even the best laid plans can come crashing down.

Everyone was beyond hyped for the Steelers last season, and the regular season taught us the preseason and training camp talk was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Was it all due to poor coaching, mainly Matt Canada and his playbook? Only 2024 can truly answer that question, but what remains in the back of my mind as the offseason just gets rolling is how I find myself trying to temper any excitement for the team at this juncture.

Sure, when free agency rolls around I’ll get excited for players signed by the Steelers. But we’ve seen plenty of free agent additions come crashing down to earth rather than rising up and elevating the team. I’ll get excited for the NFL Draft, but we all know nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. I’ll even get excited for the start of training camp, but my goal is to temper than excitement until the games which really count.

Anyone can look good on paper, or in shorts, but putting your best foot forward when it matters most…well, that’s what I’m going to be looking for in 2024.

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