The Pittsburgh Steelers looked great in the preseason. So now what?
Now the real football begins.
It is really difficult not overreacting to what you see in preseason football, especially when your preferred team looks OUTSTANDING like the 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers did in their three preseason games.
They looked about as strong and flawless as an NFL team could look during the exhibition season, including the first team offense that literally scored a touchdown on all five of its possessions. That included a couple of 25-plus yard touchdowns, the type of thing we did not see much of at all over the past few years. Everything just seemed to click perfectly.
There are a few important pieces of context you need to keep in mind with that performance.
The first is the simple fact that, yes, it is preseason football. Teams are not playing their exact offenses or defenses, they are not game planning like they do for regular season games and you are not always getting the best competition, even when it comes to the “starters” early in the game.
Which leads to the second point: In two of those three games the Steelers’ starters were basically going up against the Tampa Bay and Atlanta backups. Neither team is particularly good with its starters in the lineup, let alone the backups. If nothing else it was a great lesson in how big the gap is between first team and second team NFL players, and just how obscenely talented the former group is. Even the backups on NFL teams were among the best players in college football. The average second-string player on an average NFL team was probably at worst the third or fourth best player on their college team, if not the BEST player. And they can look helpless when going up against first team NFL starters. The gap from college, to NFL backup, to NFL starter is just insane. These guys are freakishly good.
But enough about that. Let’s talk about the 2023 Steelers preseason and what it can mean for the regular season.
Let’s start with the most important player. Kenny Pickett.
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