Remember the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers?
In their second game of the season against the Seattle Seahawks, they lost their starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on an errant play, where he injured his shoulder. Little did we know, his shoulder injury would end up costing him the rest of the season. In his place, the team played with two quarterbacks; their third-round pick Mason Rudolph, and Devlin Hodges, an undrafted free agent out of Samford.
When you think of that particular squad from 2019, they had no business going 8-8. Yet, despite the deficit of talent on offense, they had a resilient squad with a top-rated defense. Even if they were seemingly outmatched, they held the identity of a team that was willing to fight for each down in each series, in each game they played.
Why do I bring this up, when I look at this 2021 Steelers team? One thing is for certain, it is not on offense. Their unit is comprised of an offensive line with rookies who are still adjusting to playing against grown men. Roethlisberger himself is not winning the battle with father time and it is showing on the field. The receiving corps, which has generally been one of their strengths, has seemingly regressed from last season. On defense, their entire defensive line has been depleted by injuries; meanwhile, the secondary is consistently vulnerable to crossing routes over the middle, or deep, as we witnessed on Ja'Marr Chase's touchdown over cornerback James Pierre.
For a team that did little to improve their positional weaknesses and made questionable personnel decisions this off season, it does seem appropriate to ask about their identity, because their performance against the Cincinnati Bengals is reflective of an organization that has evolved in small increments. What has materialized so far in their first three games, is an indictment of the direction this organization has decided to take.
Understandably, a young team is going to have their fair share of struggles, but this year's team is struggling in a way that was far different from that team of 2019. This game was, in my opinion, the lowest point of the team's personal moral. If it does not change quickly, things will only get worse.