What do the Pittsburgh Steelers do now? What does Mike Tomlin, who told an NFL insider he would not replace Mitch Trubisky in favor of Kenny Pickett, do now that he’s replaced Trubisky with Pickett?
Tomlin wasn’t saying after Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the New York Jets.
“You know, I’m not going to talk extended as we sit here,” Tomlin said. “We did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win this game. We’ll do it again.
“But I like to just keep it where we are in terms of what transpired here today. We’ll deal with next week, next week.”
Sorry coach, but next week has arrived and the decision to play Pickett, who is a hometown favorite and whose ceiling is higher than Trubisky’s, is going to be hard to walk back.
The truth is Mike Tomlin is Pittsburgh coach for life if he wants so he can decide to play whichever quarterback he pleases.
But choosing Trubisky wouldn’t make it right.
The reason Tomlin went with Trubisky to start the season was because he’s athletic and mobile and experienced and has won when he started for the Bears. Pickett, meanwhile, needed time and wasn’t deemed ready.
The problem is Trubisky is 1-3 in his Pittsburgh starts, he hasn’t moved the offense with any consistency and Pickett played pretty well in his opportunity.
Pickett threw 3 interception but one of those basically went through a receiver’s hands and into the hands of a defender. And Pickett did score two rushing touchdowns, which meant he got the Steelers in the end zone more often this game than Trubisky has been doing the previous three.
“I thought he did some good things,” Tomlin said of the rookie. “I thought there was some energy there. We scored some touchdowns. But obviously we also turned the ball over.”
Trubisky turned the ball over, too. And he didn’t get the ball in the end zone.
And here’s the problem for Tomlin: All the players recognize Pickett brought energy to the offense that it has lacked with Trubisky. Yes, he brought mistakes but those are likely to decrease as he practices and plays more.
Trubisky, meanwhile, is who he is. He’s not likely to get better.
And, by the way, the Steelers are 1-3. What do they have to lose?
Did Cameron Brate Play With A Concussion?
The entire NFL is vigilant, almost all of a sudden, about following the concussion protocols. This comes after seeing the Dolphins quarterback suffer an ugly concussion on a national streaming telecast last Thursday.
Well, the Buccaneers had what might have been a lapse when tight end Cameron Brate left Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs with an apparent head injury and then returned before leaving again.
Brate is now in the concussion protocol coach Todd Bowles confirmed after the game. But the coach also confirmed the player returned to the game.
“I didn’t exactly see what happened when he came back in the game,” Bowles said, “so I have to look at the film to see that.”
Bowles was pressed about his concern for Brate, and Bowles again could not be specific.
“Again, I have to see what happened,” he said. “I don’t know for sure so I really can’t answer that question.”
Look, Bowles is the team’s defensive play caller aside from being the head coach. So, it is understandable if he isn’t keeping track of all the players on the game day roster shuttling in and out of the lineup.
But it is incumbent on the team’s medical staff and perhaps even the player’s position coach to make sure if a player suffers a head injury, is examined, and winds up in the concussion protocol, that he doesn’t go back in the game.
The NFL cannot be a Joe Biden public appearance where a player wanders aimlessly with no clue where he’s at unless someone points him in the right direction and he somehow ends up in the game.
New Approach Packers Still Aaron Rodgers’ Team
Everyone understands the Green Bay Packers are Aaron Rodgers’ team but because they’re raising multiple rookie receivers that offense has changed before our eyes.
The Packers look like a bona fide 1970s offense much of the time when they line up with two running backs in the backfield. It’s like they’ve got running back A.J. Dillon and tailback Aaron Jones.
And on Sunday against the New England Patriots, Dillon got 17 carries and Jones had 16 carries.
So that’s a smart way to work while the young receivers grow up.
But when the Packers were extended to overtime against the Patriots, who were playing with their third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe, Aaron Rodgers understood it was time to close the proverbial lid on the opponent.
So, of course, the Packers relied on Rodgers throwing the ball.
The Packers picked up four first downs in overtime, three by passing the ball. Rodgers completed 5 of 6 passes for 50 yards in the overtime. Green Bay gained 30 rushing yards in overtime.
But despite stepping up during the extra time, Rodgers understands a return to passing the ball like it’s 2022 is going to be necessary.
“This way of winning I don’t think is sustainable because it just puts too much pressure on our defense,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, I’ve got to play better and will play better, but the second half is our kind of football where we’re mixing it up and throwing the ball outside the numbers.
“Obviously, we ran the ball and controlled the line of scrimmage really well. But we’ve got to play
better in all three phases.”
Yeah, message sent because Green Bay losing on Sunday would’ve been a major blow.
“This is a game we had to win, for sure,” Rodgers added. “You can’t be 2-2 losing to a third-string quarterback and not playing great in all three phases, so we had to have this one.”
Wait, the Jets are at .500?
They’ve made something of a home — or apartment to put it in New York terms — in the AFC East cellar the past few years but suddenly the New York Jets are not so bad.
In beating the Steelers Sunday, the Jets authored their second double digit comeback of the season against an AFC North team — they also did it against the Cleveland Browns a couple of weeks ago.
But because its the Jets, people aren’t quite ready to admit they simply got beat by a better team.
“It’s very frustrating to lose to people that you know that you’re better than, more talented than,” Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said.
That probably would have been a fair assessment in past years but this Jets team is battling. Doesn’t mean they’re good. In fact, they’re not.
But they’re not embarrassing themselves. They compete, as they did Sunday. They’re improving from what we’ve seen in recent years.
“It was just a really cool NFL game, and for as young as we are, to have the mindset to stay in it, go 60 minutes, again, really proud of the group with the mindset and just exchanging blows with another opponent,” coach Robert Saleh said. “Being 2-2 right now, it’s pretty good.”
Does this mean the Jets’ big picture includes being relevant into December and January?
“We’ve got a really good chance,” Saleh said. “But you never know.”
This And That
The NFL loves parity and so folks at the league office were abuzz Sunday. All 14 games completed, leading up to the Sunday night matchup between Tampa Bay and Kansas City, were within a one-score difference in the fourth quarter. It didn’t hold up for Sunday night football but 14 out of 15 is very competitive.
Bills safety Jordan Poyer had two interceptions on Sunday, including one on fourth down in the end zone that kept the Ravens from scoring or backing up the Bills on their own 2 yard line. Poyer now has four interceptions in three games, making him the first NFL player to start the season’s first three games since Marcus Peters did it in 2016.
The Saints lead the NFL in giveaways (11) and penalties (34). Yeah, not good.
Seattle quarterback Geno Smith completed 23 of 30 pass attempts (76.7 completion percentage) for 320 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 132.6 rating in Week 4. Smith has a 77.3 completion percentage (102 of 132) through his first four games this season, the highest completion percentage (minimum 125 attempts) by a quarterback in his first four games of a season in NFL history.
Haason Reddick leads the NFL with 3 strip sacks this season. He had another outstanding game as the Eagles had 5 takeaways against Jacksonville.