“The Tomlin Prophecy Continued Because They Stopped Turning The Ball Over” | NFL Analyst Says Don’t Buy The Steelers Hype Heading Into 2023 Season

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers uncharacteristically began the season (1-4) and were even 5-8 before winning their final four games of the season to finish 9-8, allowing head coach Mike Tomlin to extend the record for consecutive seasons (16) without a losing season to begin a career. In 2021, Tomlin broke the record he once shared with former NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer. 

Pittsburgh’s late-season run last year was sparked by rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett growing up late in the season. The team also protected the football, committing very few turnovers in their last nine games. Maybe the biggest reason for the late-season push was good health and fortune, as the team suffered the fewest amount of injuries to starters in the entire NFL. That, along with a strong 2023 preseason, has many media personalities and analysts jumping all on the team’s bandwagon. 

But don’t tell that to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, who traditionally has been pretty accurate when forecasting what a team will look like during the upcoming season. While Barnwell isn’t saying the Steelers will be bad, he doesn’t think they will be a much-improved squad.  

Barnwell Says He Sees Regression In 2023

While appearing on the “Scott Van Pelt Show,” last week, Barnwell noted the turnover differential late in the season, and other factors. And his opinion they’re just not sustainable. 

“I have a couple reasons to believe they will be as good as they’ve been in the preseason, but also not as good as they were late last season,” Barnwell began.

“The Tomlin prophecy continued because they stopped turning the ball over,” he continued. “They turned the ball over just five times in their nine games after the bye. Now, If you’re Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady maybe you can sustain that. But Kenny Pickett is still a young player that holds the ball for a long time and takes a bunch of sacks. I don’t buy that they can avoid turnovers in that way. Then you add the defense and offense was the healthiest team in football last year together, I don’t think they can sustain it.”

Valid points by Barnwell, but one has to give Tomlin the benefit of the doubt after last season’s run to finish over .500. Tomlin can flat out motivate and lead men. That gift, along with the upgraded talent on the roster could be enough to prove Barnwell wrong. 

Steelers Are Heavy Run-First Offense

Being a run-heavy offense with two great backs in Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren immediately lessens the chances for turnovers. Also, with the running game comes heavy play action which will also protect second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett and give him many favorable matchups with his receivers and defensive backs, again helping to lessen the probability of turnovers.

The Steelers probably won’t be as good as they have looked in the preseason offensively, but they’ll be solid. On the defensive side, they could have one of the better units in the NFL. 

It’s highly plausible that Tomlin’s streak reaches 17 seasons in 2023, even with some regression, if that’s the case.

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