An unusual time to be a Steelers fan

Michael Guido, Managing & Sports Editor

I’ll admit it; I’ve been quite spoiled in my young life.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have given me a lot to celebrate and root for the past 21 years — two Super Bowl victories, three appearances altogether, one losing season, incredible Hall of Fame talent and a culture that’s continually celebrated as one of the best in professional sports.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had my share of disappointments and letdowns, whether it be the Jesse James game or the stunning playoff letdowns against Tim Tebow, Jacksonville and even the little brother in Cleveland. However, compared to fan bases such as the Jets, Lions and Browns, among others, I’ve had it made in the shade.

But in light of the magnificent egg the Steelers laid on Sunday, a 41-10 drubbing at the hands of division rival Cincinnati, the Steelers are sitting at a precarious 5-5-1 and are in danger of suffering the first losing season in the Mike Tomlin era, given the difficulty of their remaining schedule.

Along the shores of the Monongahela and Allegheny, this is not something we Steelers fans are accustomed to; the Steelers have not had a losing record since 2003, have not lost more than 11 games in a season since 1988 and if they miss the playoffs, will have gone five years without a playoff win, a streak that has yet to happen in the Chuck Noll-Bill Cowher-Tomlin era, which dates back to 1969.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating and downright sad. That’s the attitude when you’ve been spoiled by consistent success as a fan base.

However, there is a silver lining in this new reality of being just a half-game out of the AFC North cellar and owners of a lackluster record.

The Steelers, depending on how the rest of the season goes, will be in a position to have a top-15, or even top-10, first-round draft pick in next spring’s draft, which can afford them a top tier solution for any number of the glaring holes they have, including quarterback, offensive line, secondary or linebacking.

While the immediate future isn’t as bright as some would like it to be, the Steelers have a young core to build around.

Guys like Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth and Diontae Johnson leading the pack, plus guys on the other side of the ball such as T.J. Watt, Cameron Sutton, Tre Norwood and Isiah Buggs, among others.

Buggs, Norwood and Sutton could be hit-or-miss athletes, but their upside makes their role in the team all the more interesting.

With good drafting, utilization of the $11 million in cap space the team has and a better adoption of Matt Canada’s offense, plus adjustments in Keith Butler’s defense, anything is possible in the near future.

With youth, vigor and the power of the Terrible Towel leading the way, the Steelers can get back to playoff success soon enough.



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