Steelers ‘Have A Actually Good Shot’ In AFC North Subsequent Season, Connor Heyward Feels

Winning the Super Bowl is the stated goal every year. But there’s a path to follow on how best to get there, and that always starts with winning your division. The Pittsburgh Steelers have only won the AFC North once in the past five seasons, sandwiched in between two wins each by the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens.

Few teams were hotter in the second half of the 2022 season, however, than the Steelers, even if the Bengals happened to be one of them. Yet Cincinnati is further along in their building process than is this current Steelers team, which could take a big leap next season.

I think we do have a really good team, a really good defense and an offense that is trending in the right direction, and an offense that is just getting more comfortable at finding their identity”, 2022 rookie tight end Connor Heyward said recently on the Steel Here podcast. “I think we do have a really good shot in our division, and I think if we take care of our division, we can do what we want to do”.

The Steelers finished third in the AFC North in 2022 despite posting a winning record, the first time that they fell outside of the top two since 2012. They have only finished third under head coach Mike Tomlin three times, and never worse.

But there’s only guaranteed seeding for the division winner. Sure, the Steelers won a Super Bowl from the sixth seed before, but the much easier path is through the highest seed you can manage. Yet can they really compete with Cincinnati in 2023?

Heyward believes many are overlooking what the Steelers already have to work with going into next season. “I don’t think there’s as many voids as people may think”, he said. “I think we’re a well-rounded team, and we have a really good coaching staff as well”.

Granted, players don’t spend much time badmouthing their teammates and coaches. And Heyward is still at a point of his career in which he’s just worrying about making the team. But what he has to say seems to be the prevailing opinions emerging from the locker room.

How many players have come out and said that they really felt the Steelers could do some damage if they made it into the postseason? It’s easier to say when you don’t have to show it. But they have that belief that they can compete now, and that will drive them heading into this offseason.

Another common theme from the locker room is the belief that a bye week full of accountability was the difference in the second half of the year. They had a lot of frank and earnest conversations during that time and the message was clear. They played more disciplined and with more purpose. Now they have a clear vision for next season.

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