A comprehensive and utterly ridiculous 2022 Steelers Preview | Pittsburgh City Paper

A comprehensive and utterly ridiculous 2022 Steelers Preview

click to enlarge Two football players in black-and-gold uniforms
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Pittsburgh Steelers' Kenny Pickett and Chaz Green during the team's preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 13, 2022

How is this year's Pittsburgh Steelers season going so far? Well, a feel-good story came out last week during training camp, claiming Head Coach Mike Tomlin drove by a group of kids fighting, and then decided to bring them to camp to show them another way. The only problem, of course, is that the CEO of a Sheraden nonprofit (and wife of a former Steeler) blasted the report, saying these are kids in her program who were not fighting and were instead being rewarded by Tomlin, and she’s now threatening to sue the initial reporter.

Welcome to another day of the Pittsburgh Steelers; always captivating, not always pretty.

As the 2022 season hurtles towards Week 1, we find a Steelers team in more upheaval than they’ve seen in years, maybe decades. Gone is Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback since 2005. Gone is Kevin Colbert, general manager since 2000. It’s a new era, and anyone who says they fully know what to expect is only kidding themselves.

That being said, there is no shortage of storylines to look forward to: serious stories, funny stories, “Only-in-Pittsburgh” stories ... Let’s dive in.

The Front Page Story

The Quarterbacks. There’s a quarterback wearing a comical amount of ice packs-shaped hole under center this year, and there are three men looking to fill it. Veteran Free Agent Mitch Trubisky is the clubhouse leader, and that hasn’t changed since he signed. Mason Rudolph is simply a broken man, floating through 11 v. 11 drills and daydreaming about getting traded to the Seahawks in Week 5. Then, of course, there’s Kenny Pickett, the man who filled Pitt football games. His preseason showing was strong, and he’ll be waiting in the wings. But the Steelers move at a snail’s pace with change; Trubisky will be the guy in Week 1.

The Actual Biggest Question Mark

The Offensive Line. We go from the sexiest conversation to the least, but the performance of the Offensive Line will define this Steelers season. Two of last year’s starters will be back, with a possible third in Kevin Dotson, depending on health. The other two spots will be filled by Free Agent signings. There’s potential in this group, with a mix of improving youngsters and veteran signings. But for a group that finished in the bottom 10 in just about any metric you could imagine, the doubt is more than reasonable.

Biggest No-Doubter

Steelers fans calling Acrisure Stadium the wrong name. Really, the only question here is whether an announcer will call it the wrong name. I have the over/under on that throughout the year set at 3.5.

Player That Will Absolutely Get Drafted Too High in Fantasy by a Drunk Yinzer

George Pickens. George Pickens looks like a very impressive young player, but … *does the biggest-ever yinzer inhale* ... “Yinz see that Pickuhns?! Goes and gets the football! Now, that’s a ballplayer!!”

The Award For Player Whose Criticism Will Become Way Too Personal

Devin Bush. Otherwise known as the Juju Smith-Schuster Award. Listen, Devin Bush has struggled to live up to his draft position and the expectations that he had after his rookie year, and some of his comments to the media haven’t exactly helped his case. Yet, the talk radio circuit needs a new punching bag for the year, and Bush feels in prime position to be Target A. Expect Mark Madden and a whole lot of Twitter accounts from the class of 2022 to all of a sudden become high-level football analysts on the intricacies of gap control in the run game.

Best Name

Chukwuma Okorafor. I’d love to throw some light the way of Gunner Olszewski, or Montravius Adams, and man, do I wish Master Teague had made the team. But now I just have to root for Chukwuma Okorafor, the Steelers Right Tackle, to be one of strength.

What Will be the Drunkest Tailgate

Steelers v. Saints, Week 10. Maybe the toughest fought category of them all. Sunday Night Football against the Bengals will be a real zoo. So will home matchups against the Bills, Bucs, and Browns. But nobody parties like New Orleans, and a perfect fall weather game against the Saints smack in the middle of the season reeks of Gold Lot smelling like wasted tickets and half-finished I.C. Light Mango.