The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost their identity. Nowhere was this more evident than in the game last Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens bullied the Steelers defense into submission on their final few drives on the way to a 16-14 win. Forget the three turnovers. Forget the poor coaching, and even poorer special teams play. The bottom line in that game was the fact that the Ravens were tougher than the Steelers, period end of conversation. With the game on the line, and a third string quarterback under center, Baltimore ran the ball at will on their way to closing at a win at Acrisure Stadium.
The same was true on the offensive side of the ball. Pittsburgh could not establish a run game against the physical Ravens front. Nor could they hold up against the Ravens pass rush which disposed of Kenny Pickett on the first drive of the game. Filter out all the noise, and it’s clear this team got physically man-handled. This would have been unthinkable with Steelers teams of the past, but is now a sobering reality.
So how did we get here? It’s simple really. The philosophy of this franchise changed over the past decade. They no longer prioritize either side of the line in the draft, or free agency. Since 2015 the Pittsburgh Steelers have not used a first or second round pick on an lineman. Out of a possible 25 premium draft choices (rounds 1-3), they chose an interior player only four times. None of them coming higher than the third round. At the same time this team drafted six wide receivers in those early rounds. It’s no wonder how this team has become inadequate along both lines.
There is hope however for a turnaround. There is a completely new front office in place, led by Omar Khan and Andy Weidl. Weidl was hired as the personnel guy, and comes from a Philadelphia Eagles organization who has the exact opposite philosophy as do the Steelers. That franchise continually stockpiles players on both sides of the line. In contrast to Pittsburgh, the Eagles used 7 out of 21 premium draft choices on lineman. The hope is that Weidl brings this philosophy here, and starts to rebuild the Steelers lost identity.
The 2023 off-season will be an interesting one to see if this team actually changes it’s philosophy when it comes to the trenches. The Steelers have four premium picks in this upcoming draft, plus a good deal of cap space to play with. They need to use no less than half of those draft choices, and some free agent money to prop up what has become a real weakness on this team. Improving the offensive and defensive lines is something we have been in favor of for years now on this site. Key to fixing the Steelers run game? Invest in the offensive line Hopefully this Ravens games serves as an eye opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they chose to finally deal with this problem head on.
Quality and patience should be “the standard”, not relying on a few heroes while filling holes with unlikely hopefuls.