This will undoubtedly spur the Steelers to give it their all once again in this upcoming season, to improve on an already amazing year and maybe reach the Super bowl, being in the chance to be the record holder for most Super Bowl wins, which currently sees Pittsburgh tied with the New England Patriots at 6 wins each.
Whilst the Steelers may not be one of the top NFL Picks of the season, their fans still have a lot to look forward to. With some good recent signings and quite a strong team, they can still surprise everyone and make the 2022 Super Bowl, which if everything goes to plan should be played at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Here’s to hoping there will be huge crowds in attendance, signifying the slow return to normality for the country and even the world from this terrible pandemic that has disrupted pretty much every outdoor activity known to man.
The Steelers are coming from quite a season, having recorded an impressive 11-0 streak from the start, a franchise-best even, being the first NFL team to go on such a run since the Carolina Panthers in 2015. Unfortunately, that streak was broken, and the momentum carried by the Steelers was all lost in the last five games, where they lost four of these, with the last defeat coming to the hands of Cleveland Browns in the NFL Playoffs Wild Card Round, making it five straight years without winning a single playoff game for the Steelers.
The season however is already looking like an uphill battle, with the Steelers set to have the toughest schedule in the 2021 Football season. This could be excellent news for superstitious fans, as the hardest hand was dealt back in 2008 as well, the year in which the Steelers won the SuperBowl.
This being potentially the final season for Ben Roethlisberger, storied Quarterback for the Steelers for 16 seasons, there could be the extra motivation in order to give him a proper sending off. Big Ben, as he is known, has already won two Super Bowls with the Steelers, so with all that 3 is a magic number and it could really be the season for him to do it.
Playing just three games will make him the player with most appearances with the Steelers, overtaking Mike Webster who is currently sitting at 220, two more than the current tally for Roethlisberger. He already holds an amazing record at being the youngest quarterback to ever win the Super Bowl at 23 years of age, and second youngest to win the Super Bowl twice, behind the famed Tom Brady.
With the recent signing of Running Back Najee Harris, who was the first draft pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and TE Pat Freiermuth, that makes eight out of the 9 picks who have signed, with only Kendrick Green remaining to do so. Being the first pick of their draft, Harris is quite anticipated to be seen competing with his team, to see what he can bring to a very solid side already.
And talking about the upcoming season, preparations started on Tuesday as the squad met at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex to hold their first OTA (Organized Team Activity) of the 2021 off season. There was much discussion whether or not player attendance would be satisfactory, given the voluntary nature of these sessions, but the first activity’s turnout was quite good, as per Defensive Tackle Cameron Hayward.
Speaking to the official website, Heyward was quite pleased with the number of players present for the OTA, noting that anyone present will be there for both the personal and the team’s benefit. Having plenty of players present to these OTAs will no doubt help the squad be more prepared for as many different situations and scenarios as possible. Heyward also added that, come the mini camp, a full team participation is expected.
Heyward feels that these Organized Team Activities are of incredible benefit to the younger elements of the squad, since it is then that they can learn the most. There will be plenty of free time between the coaches and the more experienced players of the team to instruct the less-experienced and the newer athletes around, and go over the basics and the ins and outs of the tactics.
Seeing what these newer players can bring to the team is then a great way for coaches and team staff to determine how these elements can be used and played in the season. Coming from the fact that Heyward himself did not have the benefit of OTAs in his rookie season because of the NFL Lockout back in 2011, the year he was drafted, he is doubly aware of the huge range of benefits that this voluntary period may bring to the new players in the squad.
How much Heyward believes in his team is expressed clearly, as he has total confidence in the players that although they may not be attending all the OTAs, they are still committing their time to practice. The unfortunate situation we are now in with the pandemic still has its small advantages, like how everyone has their own personal training routines which can be continued even when these OTAs are taking place. Players can place considerable trust in their personal set of activities, as they grow accustomed to doing them as a sort of routine.
Heyward also strongly defended Roethlisberger from unfair offseason criticism, and rightfully so. Roethlisberger has been a key player for so many years at the Steelers that it would be criminal to focus on anything negative throughout his career. After a spectacularly high and low season, it will obviously be hard to settle in a positive mentality after that unfortunate finish, but clearly never a reason to go after one of the leaders of the squad.
For the next season, the Steelers will surely have their work cut out for them, but given their track record and with potential greats in their draft picks, it is surely a season to watch!