On August 25th Steelers beat writer Mark Kaboly appeared with The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan (Pittsburgh) and predicted that the team’s offense would be “awful” for the first month of the 2022 season. So awful that fans will wish they were watching the Ben Roethlisberger-led offense of 2021, which scored the seventh-fewest touchdowns in the league.
Countless Steelers fans agreed with Kaboly’s assessment, pointing to the offensive line as the primary reason for concern. On the other hand, an untold number of fans disagreed with Kaboly’s assessment — optimistic about the assemblage of young skill players and the fact that starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky possesses the kind of mobility that late-career Roethlisberger lacked.
Mark Kaboly: ‘This Offense is Going to be Painful to Watch’
In his most recent Steelers mailbag for The Athletic, Kaboly had the chance to present a more optimistic outlook but chose not to do so, even after seeing three preseason games in which Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks threw seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions.
“I stand by that,” he wrote. “People tend to have revisionist history when it comes to how Roethlisberger played last year. He dealt with the same issues this team will deal with, and these quarterbacks have nowhere near the ability to bring a team back in the fourth quarter as Roethlisberger did. This offense is going to be painful to watch early in the season.”
Narrowly speaking, Kaboly is right. If the Steelers need the kind of late game heroics that Roethlisberger repeatedly provided last season, they probably aren’t going to get anywhere near the same results.
On the other hand, the mobility offered by Trubisky, 28 — or rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett — means the Steelers offense need not be as limited or predictable as it was last season, when defenses could attack aggressively, knowing that Roethlisberger couldn’t move the pocket or throw the ball deep.
Presumably, Matt Canada’s 2022 offense will also feature some new wrinkles, the kind that couldn’t be employed by a 39-year-old quarterback who was sacked more than any other QB in NFL history — 554 times.
Kaboly: Steelers Need to Spend High Draft Picks on the Offensive Line
Looking out beyond the first month of the regular season, Kaboly is slightly more optimistic about what we’ll see from Pittsburgh’s offense — and in particular, its offensive line, which features two new starters in free agent acquisitions Mason Cole (center) and James Daniels (right guard).
“It takes some time for lines to jell, especially in this climate,” noted Kaboly. “The group barely did anything in the spring and was limited to three weeks of camp and three preseason games to get to know each other on the field…. They will get better, but it will take some time.
But Kaboly contends that the unit won’t get to where it needs to be until the organization invests high draft picks at guard, tackle and/or center.
“That’s what they did a decade ago when they turned a terrible offensive line into one of the best. They drafted Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro in the first and Marcus Gilbert in the second. Hey, look at the Chiefs and Bengals. They transformed their offensive lines in each of the last two years, so there is hope yet,” concluded Kaboly.