Thursday, July 25, 2024

Mike Tomlin faces down conundrum for week 1

With week 1 fast approaching Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is dealing with a situation he’s not faced in his previous 15 seasons at the helm in Pittsburgh: choosing a QB.

With the retirement of future HOF QB Ben Roethlisberger this was always going to be a potentially pivotal offseason for the Steelers. Did they stick with Mason Rudolph, hand the reigns to Dwayne Haskins, draft an heir=apparent, or sign a veteran to come in and take the job?

Tragedy struck with the loss of Dwayne Haskins on interstate 595 in Florida back in April, ruling out one of the options in the worst possible way. Haskins had finally found a team that was willing to help him build his career, and he looked to be turning his NFL experience around prior to the accident.

Mitchell Trubisky was signed as a veteran option on the 17th March, and most pundits thought that was the battle solved for the 2022 season. Then the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett with the 20th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

With Mason Rudolph still on the roster, the Steelers were clearly pursuing all their options and hitting the veteran, incumbent, and rookie boxes in one offseason.


For his part Mike Tomlin continues to claim he doesn’t know who he will choose at his most recent media availability.

“Like I told you guys the other week, we’re not going to make knee-jerk reactions and statements following a performance. We’ll go through our proper, professional procedure. We’ll evaluate the game. We’ll meet with our front office people. We’ll have discussions. We’ll talk internally. We’ll talk external possibilities. We’ll go through our normal procedure this time of year, and we’ll disclose it to you at our leisure, to be quite honest with you.”

Only they don’t normally do this, and here’s where the conundrum comes in to play. Do the Steelers play for this year, or for 2023 and beyond?

Kenny Pickett293680.56%26130
Mitchell Trubisky243470.59%28320
Mason Rudolph263966.67%22020
Pittsburgh Steelers QB stats preseason 2022

When you examine the stats of the three quarterbacks they look almost like the exact same guy. All pretty similar, similar attempts, similar yards, averages. It’s almost spooky. But it shows what the Steelers are trying to be is a team with a system, a team that can not be dictated too by who is available at QB.

The problem with that idea is that it’s not a winning strategy in the long run, and Mike Tomlin knows it. If they roll with this plan, eventually teams catch up and they start to nullify your system. In the end you need a QB who can win you those tight games.

So what’s Mike Tomlin’s philosophy going to be? Go with Trubisky who likely gives you the best chance to win in 2022. The guy who has some ability when the play breaks down and can maybe win you some games when things are tricky.

Go with the safe bet in Mason Rudolph? The guy he knows best, knows his limitations and strengths and knows he can’t win the big games with.

Or go with the rookie. Play out the system idea and hope that Pickett can improve, snap-on-snap, year-on-year to the point where in three or four years he could be a true franchise QB.

It’s a conundrum only Mike Tomlin can answer. My intuition tells me he will start with Trubisky and see just how far the former number two pick can take him. But there will for sure be a short leash before Kenny Pickett will get the reigns. If Trubisky doesn’t win for Mike Tomlin he’ll be done by week 6.

It’ll be fun to watch just how this unfolds.

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