The Pittsburgh Steelers went into the 2022 NFL season aiming to prove they could cope without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers did well to reach the play-offs last term despite it being abundantly clear that Roethlisberger was no longer the force of old.
They ultimately came up short in the Wild Card round, and this season has been widely viewed as a transitional one for the franchise.
The Steelers made a promising start to the new campaign, recording a hard-fought 23-20 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
However, subsequent defeats against the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns have highlighted several deficiencies in their roster.
One of the biggest issues has been the lack of productivity from quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is not in the same league as his predecessor.
There have already been widespread calls for rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett to be handed the opportunity to nail down the role.
While the debate over the position may rumble on for some time, former Steelers star Santonio Holmes believes the more experienced players in the squad must step up to the plate.
“The professionals that have been there three, five, seven years – those guys come with a different attitude,” he said.
“For the Steelers to make the play-offs this year, that’s the kind of attitude they’re gonna have to come with this season, a winning attitude that exemplifies the performance of their veterans during training camp.
“Do I think they have a chance of making the play-offs? Every year they have a chance to make the play-offs. We love beating up on the Ravens – we still like smashing around the Browns.
“And at the end of the day, the Bengals are getting better, but we still have to treat them like the Bengals. We have to perform that way.”
Following their disappointing start, there have been suggestions the Steelers could be poised to record their first ever losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin.
The 50-year-old was in charge of the Steelers when Holmes played, and he has regularly guided the team to the play-offs.
Despite their struggles during the early part of the campaign, history has shown that it would be foolish to write off the Steelers just yet.
They recovered from a 0-4 start in 2013 to end the regular season with an 8-8 record, and Tomlin undoubtedly has the know-how to turn things around.
The Steelers have a winnable game against the New York Jets on Sunday, and a victory there would give them a platform to build from.
A 2-3 record over the next five games would not be a disaster, particularly with a home game to come against New Orleans Saints after the bye week.
Holmes insists that Tomlin will not panic and has urged the players to take on board what he tells them over the coming weeks.
“To have a coach be tenured for as long as coach Tomlin is complementary to completing winning seasons,” he added.
“Every game you go in ready to play, and each man that has been drafted or brought to the Steelers, it’s their duty to get better, to practice, to perform as professionals.
“That’s why you’re here – show us what you got. The outcome is the outcome.”
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