PITTSBURGH — The Steelers started 0-3 after losing Sunday’s Week 3 loss at San Francisco, but the team isn’t panicking or hanging their heads after the disappointing start.
But they also realize that their margin of error for making the 2019 NFL playoffs have been whittled down to practically nothing.
“It’s a bad feeling, being 0-3,” running back Jaylen Samuels said on Tuesday. “It sucks.”
Monday night, when the Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals — who are also 0-3 — the loser will be facing the steepest possible climb out of the AFC North basement.
The only good news? No one has really stepped up to the top of the list in the division.
The Baltimore Ravens are 2-1 after beating Arizona and Miami, but they lost to Kansas City last Sunday. Cleveland lost to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night to fall to 1-2
That means it isn’t time to panic, according to defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
“No rah rah yet,” Tuitt said. “We don’t need none of that. At the end of the day, we just put on our pads and just keep going out on the football field and getting better.”
It does mean that the time to snap the team’s winless streak is right now, according to team captain and defensive end Cameron Heyward.
“We just got to get this damn W,” Heyward said. “That’s all it comes down to.”
“With that said, it just doesn’t magically happen. Our execution has to be flawless from here on out. Our room for error is out the window. We have to perfect in everything we do, especially in practice. It’s my job to keep my guys accountable. … Both teams are 0-3, but one team is going to be 1-3 after this game.”
Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal
Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.
Locking it down on social and media until my new contract is signed. 🤫🔒
Stay tuned… #HulkSmash
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) February 28, 2021
Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.
Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.
Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.
Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp
There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.
“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”
Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.
NFL Network Analysts Call Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 3rd-Best in AFC North
It appears that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, with both Roethlisberger’s agent and team president Art Rooney II making public statements that each party desires a return for 2021 this week.
But how much of a difference-maker will Roethlisberger be? That depends on his level of play this coming season.
NFL Network analysts and former NFL players Willie McGinest and LaDainian Tomlinson each ranked the quarterbacks of the AFC North and both said they think Roethlisberger is the third-best quarterback in the division, behind Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.
“I’m not taking anything away from Ben,” McGinest said. “Lamar Jackson is special and I put Baker in front of Ben because of what we’ve seen in the progression of Baker the last couple of years. … I see him getting better and Ben fighting father time, with the skills diminishing just a little bit.”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 25, 2021
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve seen, in spurts, Big Ben play well. He started out hot. But he didn’t finish so well. … He looked old and beat up toward the end of the season. I’m just not sure that improves.”
Statistically, Roethlisberger finished first amongst the four AFC North passers in completion percentage, but he was fourth in yards per attempt and third in passer rating and QBR. Pro Football Focus ranked Roethlisberger last of the division’s four starters in 2020.