In recent years, the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t been themselves. Starting with the unexpected loss to the Denver Broncos in the 2011 wildcard round, the team missed the playoffs in 2012 for only the second time in coach Mike Tomlin‘s tenure. Past history shows that Pittsburgh is primed for a playoff run after missing the playoffs, but with what many regard as a old and beat up team, will history repeat itself? Or will fans that bleed black and gold suffer through another miserable season?
The 2012 NFL season was interesting to watch. If you were a Steelers fan, heartbreaking is an understatement. Watching key players like Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu sit on the sideline with injuries while the team struggled, losing to teams that were marked on the schedule as easy wins such as the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans was tough. It was also painful to watch running backs Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Rainey and others fumble the football on a consistent basis, almost as if they were having a competition. Mixed in with Mike Wallace dropping would-be catches and stop giving effort half way through a play, it was a sigh of relief to have the bleeding stop after week 17.
An important year dawns for the Steelers’ organization, with two totally different possible outcomes. The first is to make a deep run into the playoffs, and silence all doubters and critics with excellent play, proving we haven’t seen the best of this team just yet. The other option will be an absolutely terrible year, which includes going .500 or less and missing the playoffs for the second-straight year. That would be enough to press the panic button for Pittsburgh, proving that it’s time to rebuild for the future.
As the 2013 season approaches, the team is finally healthy (for the most part) and looks to get back to its winning ways. With fresh young guns mixed in with seasoned veterans, Pittsburgh heads into training camp looking to get all chemistry down and all plays memorized. There is enough talent on both sides of the ball to warrant hope and optimism for the upcoming year. While a 16-0 record is highly unlikely, look for the Steelers to buckle up and showcase the team that was supposed to be on display last year. All signs point upward, and if the team can execute properly, 2013 should be fun.