Overreactions from Steelers Nation: It’s still early

Welcome to my weekly edition of “Overreactions from Steelers Nation” a weekly column where I poke fun at fans, reporters, and so-called experts while trying to figure out if some of these hot takes are real – or just for attention.

I’d like to preface this article by saying the following: if the Steelers were to win the Super Bowl, I swear there are some fans that would still find something to complain about it!

That’s the way I feel three weeks into the NFL season. The Steelers are currently in a place where no one had them, atop the AFC North. No siree, the Cincinnati Bengals and their highest-paid quarterback were to take the crown… that’s if the Baltimore Ravens and their formerly (by months) highest-paid quarterback wouldn’t first.

And then there’s the Cleveland Browns, with their $230 million guaranteed passer who would eventually “come back around to how he used to play”. They too have been paper champions for as long as I can remember.

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That has led everyone to predict the demise of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a franchise that hasn’t had a losing season since 2003 and hasn’t had a top five draft pick since Terry Bradshaw was taken first overall in 1970. Year-in and year-out the story is the same; the Steelers will fall. Yet, even with shortcomings – such as missing and/or not winning in the postseason – Pittsburgh finds a way to remain competitive.

Some fans feel that is complacency, but it’s not. Not at all really.

Sure, like anyone else I’d like to see the Steelers become the dynasty they were in the 70’s, but that’s not how reality works. (Especially since the New England Patriots played in the same conference and prevented Pittsburgh from doing so by being their own dynasty in the 2000’s and 2010’s.)

Yet, I still can’t grasp what some of the fan base’s problem is. It feels as if I have to defend someone from getting fired on a weekly basis. Do they not see how things operate around the league? I mean, the Denver Broncos just gave up 70 points! Can you feel that poorly about losing to a solid San Francisco 49ers team that’s truly playing like a championship contender?

You shouldn’t, but some still will.

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Then there’s the paper champion Browns. Was it an ugly win? Surely. Are there style points in football? Nope.

Then why does anything other than wins or losses matter in the grand scheme of things? Beating the Browns gives the Steelers a highly coveted division victory used in tiebreaker scenarios. That’s why they’re currently in first place.

Yes, I get it’s early in the season but do yinz get it’s early in the season? (Aha! Do you see how that works both ways?!)

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Kenny Pickett struggled early. The entire team struggled in Week 1 to be honest. The defense came around in Week 2 and against the Raiders, I’m sorry, but there was plenty of positives to see. Some dwell too much on the negatives, but the truth is a bogus roughing the passer call is all that kept Las Vegas from being completely shutout after scoring the game’s first seven points.

After playing what appears to be two of the premiere defenses in the NFL in the Niners and Browns, the Steelers finally got some breathing room with the Raiders and could have similar success against the Houston Texans this upcoming weekend.

I’ll even go as far to say the non-existent Baltimore Ravens pass rush along with their own injury woes could benefit Pittsburgh when they return home to host their division rival in Week 5.

Then it’s a bye week and a long season to go from there, where hopefully WR Diontae Johnson and DE Cameron Heyward rejoin the team in top form. By this point, we’ll know if the Steelers are still kings of the AFC North or in a dogfight – or the doghouse for that matter.

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So why all of the kneejerk reactions so soon?

My guess is bragging rights. Maybe someone didn’t cover their sportsbook spread. Or perhaps they’re just too entitled, spoiled by having grown up and never seen the Steelers struggle – though I’d argue that point is moot no matter which of the three coaches were part of your upbringing. Regardless, it’s no reason to act like a petulant child with nonstop posting about your displeasure over a single game.

Do me a favor here Steelers Nation: have some patience. I believe the best is yet to come. September football is still an extension of the preseason as the kinks get worked out. Pittsburgh wasn’t supposed to replace Ben Roethlisberger, don’t forget, and this is a rebuild… that could be rebuilt rather quickly.

That’s why it’s hard to blame (insert name/position) here so soon. Especially with a 2-1 record in first place.

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If the pieces in place all fall in line to be a competitive team, you will once again be spoiled with watching the Steelers play deep into January. Just be forewarned, they’ll still have some juggernauts to contend with (namely the Chiefs and Bills) so it may still be more than a one-year process to climb the mountain.

That should make it no less fun to see where this team is headed and how they eventually end up.

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