We are past the midway point of the season, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-4-1. This seems appropriate. If we take their record aside and think back to the crazy events that took place in yesterday's contest and their games this season, what would be your honest assessment of this team?
What should become obvious at this point is that this is not an elite team. Then again, when this team started 11-0 last season, we were almost fooled by that idea.
The next question is whether this is a good team. Judging from what we saw this evening, primarily on defense, perhaps it is unfair to make that assessment, considering how depleted they were on that side of the ball.
So the overall question is: what type of team are the Steelers this season? The answer is simple: they are average.
To begin, their overall team statistics indicate that they are average; they were ranked 23rd in total offence and 14th in total defense heading into Week 11 against the Chargers. Secondly, this team has a decent number of high-to elite-level players, such as TJ Watt and standout rookies such as Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth. As a whole, they have yet to play a game in which both units excel in unison. In this particular game, the offense carried the team, yet at their best, they were not efficient to match against Justin Herbert and his offense.
In certain ways, this year's team is reminiscent of their 2013 squad; nice individual parts but weak as a whole. Regardless of how depleted the Steelers' defense was in the game, the manner in which the Chargers were able to methodically go down the field, notably on their first drive in the third quarter, served as a reminder that this team is very flawed, and still needs work if they want to match up against potential playoff teams.
All that said, there is a silver lining to all this for Steelers fans. Despite where they stand, this average team came close to escaping with a victory in a game they had no business winning. What this says is that they are willing to do what it takes to compete with the best the NFL has to offer. Believe it or not, this type of resolve can take them far when they finally become a healthy unit.