That wasn’t a terrible game Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky played Thursday night. He actually improved from the stinker he played only four days before.
But was it good? No. Was it enough to win an important game against a struggling division foe? No.
So now we’re going to test the narrative the Steelers put out before the regular season began about their starting quarterback. That narrative is Trubisky is the Steelers’ starter because of his experience and athletic ability and proven ability to win NFL regular season games and that’s the way it will remain.
Yeah, raised eyebrows of doubt.
Coach Mike Tomlin was so certain that narrative would hold up he told FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer he’s sticking with Trubisky all season long and rookie Kenny Pickett would sit all season.
Well, slow your roll. Because Trubisky is 1-2 as Pittsburgh’s starter. The offense has four touchdowns in three games. And Trubisky is not performing consistently enough although his latest outing — with modest 207 passing yards against Cleveland — was more encouraging than the previous week.
Tomlin Not Yet Ready To Replace Trubisky
“I wasn’t looking to be encouraged, I was looking to win the game,” Tomlin said after the Browns defeated the Steelers, 29-17. “I would expect us to get better in all phases so I don’t know that I share that perspective.”
Here’s another perspective Tomlin doesn’t currently share: He’s not ready to replace Trubisky with Pickett quite yet.
“I’m not in that mindset,” Tomlin said. “I’m interested in reviewing this tape and looking at the totality of it and figuring out how we get better. So the answer to that question is definitively no.”
But there’s no way this is a permanent season-long decision. Tomlin has never had a losing season during his 15-year tenure in Pittsburgh. And if this team continues to get performances that don’t help deliver success, every position—especially quarterback—will be under serious scrutiny.
“I thought he made some plays, man,” Tomlin said of Trubisky, “but we all collectively came up short. That’s how we measure performance, man. Winning is our business and we didn’t handle business. And so we don’t break down a part to look for feel good.”
More NFL Narratives About To Go Away
The Steelers aren’t the only NFL team that is either wrestling or embracing a narrative right now. There are others involving both the entire organization or individual players circulating throughout the NFL.
Allow me to share some of those and how we might be wise to stop short of making grand assumptions based on early-season narratives:
The Narrative: He has arrived after throwing 4 TD passes in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens.
Slow your roll: He was amazing in a desperate situation. But are Dolphins coaches confident enough to use that fourth quarter as the template for their offense going forward or do they go back to the safer and more comfortable approach of getting the ball out of the QB’s hands quickly, which limits deep passing opportunities? And if the philosophy is changing before our eyes to Tagovailoa holding the ball longer to let deep passes develop, can the offensive line hold up and can Tagovailoa avoid injury?
New York Giants
The Narrative: They’re undefeated and they’re back.
Slow your roll: Brian Daboll has a winning scheme on offense and Wink Martindale is a great defensive coordinator who still hasn’t had his full complement of talent up front while covering up weaknesses in the secondary. The culture has shifted because the leadership is good and knows what it needs. But the Giants understand they’re not complete and have not arrived by any means. Still, good days are ahead.
The Narrative: He’s not making his usual mistakes and is completing 71 percent of his passes, so he just might be a keeper as a game-manager.
Slow your roll: The Giants want to upgrade. Period. Jones is developing into a player the Giants can win with. They need a quarterback they can win because of and that has not changed yet for most in the organization.
Narrative: He’s playing at the level not seen since that playoff run to the Super Bowl in 2012-13 so maybe Zach Wilson doesn’t have to come back for the Steelers game Oct. 2 after all.
Slow your roll: Flacco is off to a fine start as the NFL’s third-leading passer for yards. But the Jets remain committed to Wilson and neither the team nor Flacco are consistent enough to keep Wilson on the sidelines when he’s ready to return. Dear Flacco fans, make acquaintance with the term “regression to mean.”
Narrative: The year is already headed in the wrong direction and there is no overcoming a middling quarterback throwing to a rookie receiver and counting on an inconsistent running game.
Slow your roll: The Titans still play tough, physical football on defense. And while Ryan Tannehill is never going to be the reason any team reaches the playoffs, he’s better than what he’s shown so far. The running game, behind Derrick Henry, will pick it up. The Titans still might be the best team in their division despite an 0-2 record.
Narrative: They destroyed the defending Super Bowl champions in the opener and demolished the AFC’s top seed from a year ago on Monday night. So they are a machine. They’re dominant. There’s no beating them.
Slow your roll: The defensive secondary is banged up and and suspect until Tre’Davious White returns, assuming he comes back as good as he was before his knee injury. They’ve only played one legit NFL wide receiver in Cooper Kupp. And how long can Josh Allen continue to expose his body on those runs and stay healthy?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Receivers
Narrative: They’ll be fine, they’ve got Tom Brady. That’s enough.
Slow your roll: Mike Evans will be fine when he returns from his suspension. But Chris Godwin and Julio Jones are managing injury issues to the point that both have already missed a game, and they had injury issues last year. As to the addition of Cole Beasley stepping into the void, maybe that works. But even coach Todd Bowles noted, “He’s been on the street,” meaning not with a team since last season. There are reasons Brady has only 2 TD passes through two games, only the third time in his 23-year career he’s had that few after two games. Breshad Perriman and Russell Gage need to step up.