A Debriefing of the Steelers’ 2021 Season
By Luke Schultheis, Layout & Sports Editor
Thanks to Brandon Staley’s timeout and Daniel Carlson’s leg, No. 7 saw one more playoff game.
It ended about how you’d expect, the Steelers falling 42-21 in Kansas City. Despite the bittersweet end to Ben Roethlisberger’s career, the 2021 season was a success for Pittsburgh. Against all odds, they snuck into the playoffs — all while defeating two harsh rivals in the previous weeks.
But what does the Steelers’ future hold? A new era will emerge in 2022, and questions linger not only at the quarterback position, but the entire team.
Injuries plagued the defensive line, the Steelers finishing dead last in stopping the run. Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt will likely return next year, giving a much-needed boost to Cameron Heyward, who won’t have to worry about offenses double-teaming him.
Other than the monstrous specimen that is T.J. Watt, the linebackers were sub subpar. Devon Bush has shown he’s not the guy, and Joe Schoebert didn’t make the plays fans expected him to make.
The secondary is strong, but Joe Haden is getting older, and it may be time to start looking for a replacement.
Every position on the offense needs help.
Najee Harris carried for 1,200 yards behind an abhorrent offensive line. Imagine what he could do behind a great, let alone decent, one. Mike Tomlin should even consider signing a free agent running back to compliment Harris.
This applies to Diontae Johnson too, who was the most targeted Steelers wideout. If Juju Smith-Schuster returns, this may not be a problem. However, a second elite receiver will allow him to get in space often.
The offensive line is still very young and only had a year to play together. This would be a valid excuse if they showed signs of improvement throughout the season. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and it’s time to start looking at draft options.
Finally, the big question for 2022: Who is playing quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers? The draft class for quarterbacks isn’t something to write home about this year, but many fans say they want to see Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett in black and gold.
He’s a valid option — but upon making the postseason, the Steelers may be down too far in the draft. Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins will probably start next year, but they won’t be the long-term answer.
Rumors have spread that Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers will be free agents in 2022, but the likelihood of them coming to Pittsburgh is low. They’re approaching the end of their careers and would cost a fair amount of money. Nonetheless, one of them would nicely bridge a gap while the Steelers try to find their franchise guy.