The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that analysts seemingly don’t know what to do with. While they have the longest odds to win the AFC North, some analysts are high on them and think they’re a playoff team while some are concerned about the state of the roster. Former NFL running back Shady McCoy is of the belief that Pittsburgh is being overlooked, and he believes that Kenny Pickett is going to take a step up and the Steelers will “ball out” in 2023. As a panelist on Speak on FS1, McCoy shared his thoughts on the Steelers.
“I’m going with the Steelers. I think they’ll be better this year,” McCoy said. “I think that [Pickett’s] second year under Mike Tomlin, who’s a great coach, excellent coach, winning coach. I think he learned something there, good offense, solid offense,” McCoy continued.
“I think they ball out.”
There are a few determining factors to how Pittsburgh will perform in 2023, but the play of Pickett is one of the biggest. He improved throughout the year during his rookie season, and the front office improved his offensive line and added more weapons around him. Pickett has to take another step forward and show he can make NFL-level throws.
The biggest issue with the Steelers’ offense last season was a general lack of explosive plays. Whether it was the playcalling or Pickett’s decision-making, there just weren’t a lot of looks downfield. The ones they did get were mostly 50-50 balls to George Pickens down the sideline. For the Steelers to match up with the top teams in the league, there’s gotta be more opportunities to push the ball downfield.
Particularly with the Steelers being more of a run-heavy team, they can use the run to set up the pass. Whether it’s through play-action or just keeping teams on their toes, they can scheme themselves opportunities for shot plays that they didn’t really attempt last season. If Pickett can prove he can make those sorts of throws, he’ll be just fine and the Steelers will be too.
Pittsburgh might be getting overlooked a little at this point of the offseason, but the AFC is going to be brutal this year. It’s fair to question whether they’ll have enough juice with a second-year quarterback to return to the postseason. However, given that the team went 9-8 last season and plays an easier schedule in 2023, I’m confident in the Steelers’ chances.
They certainly aren’t a lock to make the playoffs or even have a winning record, but with enough development out of Pickett and an improved offensive line helping the run game, I think the Steelers should win at least 10 games this season, so I’m with McCoy that it’ll be a better group in 2023.
With training camp getting started in just a few weeks, we’ll have some more clarity on what the Steelers offense might look like and whether Pickett really has taken that step forward.