The New York Jets try to get back in the win column when they visit the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. Previewing this matchup, Jeff Hartman of Behind the Steel Curtain was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the 2022 Steelers.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
1. If you were the head coach of another team, how would you go about attacking the Steelers on offense and on defense? Where are the areas of vulnerability for the Steelers?
Defending the Steelers’ offense is easy...just do what everyone else does, and has done, this season. Play a single-high safety coverage, put an extra player in the box to stop the run and force the quarterback to make difficult throws into tight windows to beat you. So far, the Steelers haven’t shown the ability to beat this coverage, so keep doing it until they prove they are willing and able to do so. As for the defense, it all starts by establishing the run. The Steelers’ defense is good, even without T.J. Watt, but your best bet is to get them on the field and wear them down. The blueprint the Browns used in Week 3 on TNF is the perfect blueprint. Use the run to set up play-action and quick throws against soft coverage. Own time of possession, and you’ll own the Steelers.
2. The Steelers have opened the 2022 season with three straight games in which the offense has failed to score more than 17 points (the Steelers scored one touchdown on a pick 6 on opening day against the Bengals). What’s wrong with the Steelers’ offense? Is it all on Mitchell Trubisky, or do the problems run deeper than that?
I wouldn’t say all of the Steelers’ offensive issues fall on Trubisky’s shoulders, but a large part of the blame does fall to him. Trubisky looks frantic in the pocket at times, isn’t the most accurate quarterback and has made some awful decisions with the football in his hands. With all that being said, the play calling by offensive coordinator Matt Canada has also left a lot to be desired. The Steelers inability to stick with the run has been a big issue with the team, and it has been reflected in their overall results. The offense is trending in the right direction, thanks to an improving offensive line, but Canada and Trubisky combined are certainly an issue for the overall success of the team.
3. Speaking of Mitchell Trubisky, the Steelers selected quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2022 NFL draft. Pickett reportedly looked good in preseason action. Trubisky hasn’t played well so far for the Steelers and was a failure in Chicago. How much longer will it be before Pickett gets his shot, and do you think the Steelers are sticking with Trubisky too long?
I’ve been very vocal about wanting to see Pickett since Week 1. You draft a quarterback that high, you want to see what you have. Is he the next guy, or just another guy? You won’t know until you play him. But Mike Tomlin has been sticking with the veteran in this regard. Trubisky was voted a team captain, and Tomlin is willing to stick with him as long as possible. The fan base has seen enough of Trubisky, but Tomlin is unwavering in his support of him. Barring injury, I don’t see Pickett getting playing time until after the Steelers Week 9 bye week, and when you look at the Steelers’ schedule things could get pretty ugly before then.
4. The Steelers rarely have a losing year. They are as good as any NFL franchise has ever been at rebuilding on the fly while continuing to win. Is this year a true rebuilding (and losing) year for the Steelers, or will we see a winning record yet again by the end of this season?
I think the Steelers will always be competitive, and I believe they’ll be right around the 9-8 or 8-9 mark this season. And, yes, this is a rebuild; however, the Steelers are, like you said, rebuilding on the fly. They have made some great picks on both sides of the football, and if Pickett is their next “guy” for 10+ years, they are on their way to fielding another Super Bowl contender in just a few years.
5. If you were a betting man, which team would you pick to win this game?
This is the only game this season the Steelers have been favored, and their second home game of the season. After a long layoff after TNF, I expect the Steelers to come out with guns blazing. I could see the Steelers jumping out to a big lead, only to have the Jets claw their way back once they get conservative. Ultimately, I still like the Steelers to win the game, and even cover the 3-point spread, in Week 4.