The Steelers are starting their offseason program, and now they officially have their 2023 schedule to go along with the start of rookie minicamp on Friday. However, what can they learn about their schedule just looking at it right now? Here are a few key takeaways:
Broderick Jones’ Tests
Early on in the season, if he starts, rookie left tackle Broderick Jones is set to see an absolute gauntlet. With the 49ers, Browns, and Raiders on the schedule, that means Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett, and Maxx Crosby all in a row to start his career. And if you look at the secondary rushers, only the Browns do not have someone that can be lethal. Jones could see Chandler Jones and Arik Armstead a great deal, too.
With the likelihood of Jones winning the Week 1 job at left tackle, it will be an early growing-up stretch in the NFL for Jones before he will see Will Anderson and the Texans in Week 4. Given that the offensive line is such a heavily experienced-based position, it could really help propel Jones forward faster.
Two Thursday Night Games?
Thursday Night Football games and weeks are weeks that teams simply despise. Walk into a locker room that week and the mood in the locker room changes and the process is sped up tenfold. It’s an odd dichotomy to try and slice through, but one thing is clear, and it is that teams just do not like it.
So, for the Steelers, seeing multiple weeks where they are playing on Thursday night has to be a bit of a tough one to swallow. None of them come off a long week, and they all come after the bye week. That can really throw off a team’s routine throughout the schedule. Mike Tomlin will meet it face on, but there are likely very few in the building happy about that.
Brutal Stretch to End Season
If you want to look at the schedule from a top view, the team’s toughest stretch of the season is how they end it. First, they host the Cincinnati Bengals at home on a primetime Saturday game before Christmas. Then, they travel to the West Coast to face the Seattle Seahawks on New Year’s Eve. Lastly, they go to Baltimore to meet with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Those are three, physical games, and adding in the Colts game the week before, the team will finish on a stretch of three out of four road games. If the Steelers are in the playoff race as they should want to be, it will be easy to learn about the team’s character late in the season given this stretch.
Easy Start to the Year
It’s the NFL, so saying there is an ‘easy start’ to the year is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. However, this feels like a flipped version of last year’s schedule. There are simply, on paper, a lot of easier matchups in the season’s first half with teams like the Texans, Rams, and others appearing on it right away.
The meat of the schedule, where more of their tougher, grueling stretches will come down to later in the year. That means that the Steelers have to start fast in the year unless they want to somehow climb themselves out of a hole that could feel too deep early on in the season.