November 28, 2022

Coaching isn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers’ only problem in 2022. Their lack of quality talent is biting them hard this year.

One of the simplest things football fans can do is blame the coaching staff for all their shortcomings. When something goes wrong or a team behaves particularly badly on one side or the other of the ball, it seems like every NFL fan wants to get their head coach or coordinator fired.

The Pittsburgh Steelers clearly have issues with their coaching staff – there’s no doubt about it. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada may be the worst in the league at his job, and the organization desperately needs to cut ties with him. He is not the only coach to wonder. However, it’s incredibly naive to believe the Steelers don’t have a talent problem.

Let’s start with the good. The 2022 Steelers are a “stud and dud” team by its truest definition. The problem is that they don’t have enough studs. Pittsburgh is heavily dependent on the health and performance of players like TJ Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cameron Heyward. The problem is that when one of these players runs out of time (i.e. TJ Watt), the lack of talent elsewhere on the roster becomes even more noticeable.

The Steelers are full of substitute-level players

Here’s the sad truth: The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team full of replacement players. Outside of their aforementioned three starters, there are only a handful of newcomers before the below-average starters round out the rest of the depth chart.

Let’s give credit to their young players who could potentially be cornerstones of this team. After Watt, Fitzpatrick and Heyward, the next group of young players includes guys like George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, Diontae Johnson, Cam Sutton and Alex Highsmith. You can also argue that a few others also belong to this group (like Terrell Edmunds or James Daniels). However, the list doesn’t have much value elsewhere. Larry Ogunjobi is a quality journeyman who will likely only play a year in Pittsburgh, but the rest of the roster is truly unspectacular.

Let’s go in all directions. Starting at quarterback, Kenny Pickett is obviously a well below average starter at this point (although the hope is obviously that he will become the franchise’s quarterback). As for the rest of the attack, Najee Harris, Dan Moore, Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole and Steven Sims (who may not be pushed into a bigger role) are all substitute-level players at this point. .

On defense, the Steelers are also lacking in talent. Malik Reed, Devin Bush, Montravius ​​Adams, Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon aren’t even close to average NFL starters right now, while players like Chris Wormley and Myles Jack are just fine in their roles.

This talent issue stems from several issues. For starters, the Steelers have had a high drop rate in the NFL Draft since the 2015 season, and they’ve really only had one draft class (2017) which is considered one of the best classes. of the league for the past eight years. .

Pittsburgh has also been questionable about how they’ve spent their free agency money over the past few years. Instead of shelling out big bucks for high-quality free agents, they doled out their money to average starters and even backup-level players who filled an immediate hole (like Eric Ebron and Trai Turner).

Eventually, this team will figure it out and get back on track. It could start with a good draft in 2023 now that Pittsburgh should have excellent draft capital. However, at the moment, the Steelers’ starting roster is riddled with backup-level players that they need to try to upgrade in the years to come.

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