Updated: Jun 22, 2021
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
With the Steelers collapsing down the stretch last season, losing five of their last six games, including the embarrassing wild-card game loss to the Browns at Heinz Field, many in the national media have the Steelers finishing third in the AFC North, and some even believe they'll finish last in the division.
Steelers tight end Eric Ebron spoke with the media on Thursday after the Steelers wrapped up their three-day minicamp and he was asked about the projections coming from the media that the Steelers will win only 5-6 games in 2021.
"Yeah, I mean, whatever," Ebron responded. "I look forward to playing each and every game. At the end of the day, we got to stop them and they got to stop us, and we're not an easy team to stop. So, will see it on the grass and I hope every team comes in here and thinks they're going to steamroll us. That's the best thing that you can hope for as the opponent. So, yeah it'll be great. It'll be fun. I hope we get that all year."
Adam Schein of CBS Sports said last month that the Steelers are going to be a "hot mess" and that he can't find six wins on their schedule in 2021.
"Ben Roethlisberger was cooked at the end of last year, why do I think he's going to be ready to rock and roll this year?" Schein said. "The line still stinks. Defense is not what it was. Bud Dupree's not walking through that door. I'm telling ya, second-half schedule, murders row. And this team wasn't any good last year. Now, Najee Harris is going to help the offense without question, but can't block for himself, right? Can't block for himself. Ben Roethlisberger's not getting any younger. I mean, Cleveland and Baltimore, whatever order, they're the class of the division. They are vastly superior football teams. Don't be surprised if Cincinnati ends up winning more games than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is going to be a hot mess."
Like Schein, former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum also thinks Ben Roethlisberger is "washed up" and that the Steelers will finish last in the division.
While Roethlisberger probably wouldn't admit to it, I'm sure he's heard about all the negative talk about him this offseason and is taking note of it. That's what competitors do.
"I think anybody that is told they can’t do something, they are going to be motivated to go prove people wrong," Roethlisberger said a few weeks ago during OTAs via Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports. "The other thing is I have been doing this for long enough that you let it motivate you but you don’t let it drive you or push you into just being so crazy that I have to prove that person wrong. Because at the end of the day you are just trying to win a football game and a championship. I’m going out to play for my teammates who are in this locker room and on this field, playing for the fans. That’s what it’s about."
While a lot of people are writing off the Steelers in 2021, Ebron makes a good point that being overlooked can sometimes be the best thing for a team. The Steelers also usually end up doing better as underdogs anyway.