You start 0-4, then fall to 2-6. To rebound in the second half of the season and finish 6-2 down the stretch and complete an 8-8 season and narrowly miss the playoffs, something had to change. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, you could point in a lot of different directions for the spark that ignited the turnaround. The offensive line protecting Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell coming into his own, Antonio Brown having a record breaking season, Troy Polamalu‘s health or a myriad of other story lines could have helped, but if you ask me it came down to ego.
I can’t say that I blame the Steelers for that. After all, when you play for the franchise with the most Super Bowl victories in NFL history, a team that is a perennial power and a team that has such a rich tradition, you can tend to grow an ego.
However, with the ego and the confidence can come hubris, and that is something that can slowly eat away at any person or team. The Steelers certainly are a team that is confident. After all, in 2009 when the Steelers had the most difficult record in the NFL and went on to win Super Bowl 43, head coach Mike Tomlin was always quoted saying, “Its a five star matchup because we are in it!” That’s a pretty strong statement if you think about it.
This 2013 season could have been different if only the egos were checked at the door much earlier than mid way through the season. This all started in the preseason when the Steelers didn’t win a game. Not much was said about that, but competitors want to win, or should want to win. After all, they are meaningless preseason games. When a team goes 0-4 no one is sounding alarms, but maybe they should. Maybe that was the time to realize that something wasn’t working. Nonetheless, the ego stayed in tact.
Then the month of September came and went without a Steelers victory. Do the math and you have an 0-8 start to the 2013 season. No worries, the egos remained as players still talked like the playoffs were at their finger tips.
It wasn’t until the midway point of the season that everyone within the organization, coaches, management and players alike, all left their egos aside and got to work. The result? A 6-2 sprint to the finish that almost got them a playoff birth at 8-8.
So the Steelers sit and watch the playoffs at home, but what needs to happen is the team needs to change. They need to stay humble, as if they started another season 0-8 and not show up in 2014 as if their 6-2 finish was something to write home about. If the Steelers can do that, then they have every chance to pick up right where they left off, but if the entitlement of being “the Pittsburgh Steelers” creeps back in, then another mediocre season and playoff season spent watching could be in store.