5 keys to watch for Pittsburgh Steelers this season

Curt Popejoy
Steelers Wire

If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to keep pace with the rest of a very deep AFC, it is going to take a monumental effort but the players and coaches.

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Here are the Steelers five keys to a successful season.

Keep expectations reasonable

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has a .642 winning percentage.

This goes for the team and the fanbase. Temper your expectations this season. If head coach Mike Tomlin can maintain his streak of non-losing seasons, call it a win. If it’s Super Bowl or bust, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Create a more efficient run game

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns.

There’s no reason for Najee Harris to touch the football 381 times this season to get the kind of numbers he did last season. Harris had 307 carries for only 1,200 rushing yards. That isn’t clean football and has to be improved.

Win on early downs

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) and outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) celebrate after a fumble recovery by Watt against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field.

Whether it is on offense or defense, the Steelers must find a win to win on first down. The defense cannot allow opposing offenses to get into second and manageable situations and the offense must get a positive chunk of yards to avoid being predictable.

Dictate splash plays

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) celebrates with teammates, from left, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39), cornerback Arthur Maulet (35), cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) and outside linebacker Alex Highsmith (56) after recording a forced fumble against Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

This is all about turnovers. Pittsburgh must take care of the football and not put a young, inexperienced offense in bad spots. As the strength of the team, the defense needs to give that group short fields.

Embrace the Matt Canada offense

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada watches an NFL football practice, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Last season, we saw a version of offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s offense but it was mostly what Ben Roethlisberger wanted to do. This season, it is time to let Canada have full control of the game plan and let’s see if he can bring the Pittsburgh offense into the modern NFL.