The last three times the Steelers have endured a poor or a mediocre season they’ve bounced back and posted a double-digit victory total in the following campaign.
In 2004 they went 15-1 following 2003’s 6-10.
In 2007 they went 10-6 after going 8-8 in 2006.
And in 2010 it was a 14-4 follow-up to 2009’s 9-7.
Ike Taylor remembers all of that because he was here for all of that after initially joining the Steelers as a fourth-round pick in 2003.
They also improved from 9-7 in 2000 to 13-3 in 2001.
Taylor attributes that trademark resiliency in no small part to the Steelers perceiving themselves as having no choice but to bounce back in such situations.
“Playing in Pittsburgh you can’t go 8-8 twice,” Taylor maintained. “You go 8-8 twice, somebody gotta go. Somebody has to go, that’s just the way it is. Expectations are sky high here. You don’t have six Lombardi trophies sitting on the second floor in the front office just because 8-8 is acceptable. That’s just something you don’t do around here.
“Guys feel it. Guys feel it. Guys feel it. It’s a mindset. It’s a want-to. It’s just not settling. When you go 8-8 twice, man, everybody must go. It’s a blackout sale. It’s a clearance sale. Everybody must go.”
Taylor, now an 11th-year pro at cornerback, said he first began to understand that mentality after the Steelers went 6-10 in his rookie season.
“Of course, the veteran guys, they blamed the rookies, like, ‘Draft class, y’all didn’t even come and contribute,” Taylor explained. “After that, going into the following training camp and seeing how aggressive training camp was, the mindset of that training camp, I was like, ‘OK, losing is not something around here people get used to.’
“Veteran players, coaches, it’s just the atmosphere around Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh fans are spoiled. And as a professional athlete I’m spoiled. Eleven years, eight
playoffs, three Super Bowls, won two. Not too many guys can say that. But that’s just the way it is around Pittsburgh.”