After finishing the preseason games undefeated, the Pittsburgh Steelers have turned more heads and garnered increased expectations about the upcoming 2023 NFL season. Preseason games are not a reliable barometer, but in any case, former NFL head coach Herm Edwards is buying the hype on Kenny Pickett and company.
“I really like the Pittsburgh Steelers. I wanted to see Pickett in the preseason, just how he was going to throw the football and play quarterback. But this is heading in the right direction, I mean they really are,” Edwards said in a recent appearance on First Take.
The Steelers finished the preseason winning all three of their games, and for Edwards, that's good enough for him to be convinced of the bright future that is ahead of Pittsburgh.
“The quarterback is playing well, and I understand it's the preseason, but it matters. The preseason matters, these games do matter with your starters, Edwards added as he made a point to consider Pittsburgh's winning ways prior to the regular season. “How they play, and I don’t care who they play against, they’re playing against professional football players, matters. Watt’s back and that’s going to help them defensively. This team will challenge the Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals to get a playoff spot. There might be three teams coming out of this division.”
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If the Steelers are to surpass expectations, they are going to need Pickett to make a great leap forward in his second year in the NFL and the defense to remain stout — if not stingier than it was in 2022. The Steelers were just 26th offensively in 2022 with 18.1 points per game but finished 10th overall with only 20.4 points surrendered per contest.
The baseline for the Steelers appears to be a .500 record, as head coach Mike Tomlin has always delivered that for Pittsbrugh, regardless of the team's composition. Last year, the team missed the boat to the NFL playoffs but managed to extend its non-losing record streak under Tomlin to 16 after going 9-8.
Pickett and the Steelers can start proving their naysayers wrong (and justifying Edwards' take) by beating the San Francisco 49ers at home in Week 1 of the regular season on Sep. 10.