Steelers Quarterback Decision Looms with Mitch Trubisky Safe Choice, Kenny Pickett A Swing For Fences

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The three-man race for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback job has only two ways it can go now. And both these choices come with disparate visions of what the 2022 season should be about.

The choices to be the Steelers’ quarterback:

Veteran quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Sorry, Mason Rudolph. You’re either going to be a fallback on the roster in case things go terribly wrong or be traded.

The Steelers say a trade is not in the offing. General manager Omar Khan has previously told reporters he doesn’t anticipate trading Rudolph and repeated that on the Bryant McFadden podcast Monday

“I don’t anticipate it being any different,” Khan said. “Those three guys are in there.”

Great, but the Steelers quarterback will be either Trubisky or Pickett. Because both had outstanding preseasons as they battled for the job and both finished strong on Sunday in the preseason finale against the Detroit Lions.

This preseason Trubisky completed 24 of 34 passes for 283 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions. He averaged 8.3 yards per attempt, which is very good.

Pickett completed 29 of 36 passes for 261 yards with 3 TDs and no interceptions. He averaged 7.3 yards per attempt which is solid.

So which one? Does coach Mike Tomlin have his starting QB?

“I might, but you’re not going to have that today,” Tomlin told reporters Sunday afternoon after a preseason game against the Lions. “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.”

While the Steelers are enjoying their leisure let’s address what external possibilities and internal discussions could and should entail.

Mitch Trubisky Is The Logical Choice To Start

Trubisky, No. 1 on the Steelers quarterback depth chart when training camp opened and the preseason closed, didn’t lose the job. We know this.

He is the safe choice to be the starter for the Steelers against the defending AFC champion Bengals at Cincinnati on Sept. 11.

PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 28: Mitch Trubisky #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Acrisure Stadium on August 28, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Trubisky is the most experienced and accomplished quarterback on the roster so that opener won’t be too big for him. He has had success as a starter in the past, with a 29-21 record as an NFL starter, and he’s very athletic and mobile — something offensive coordinator Matt Canada wants to employ in the regular season.

Trubisky is the logical choice if the Steelers seem themselves capable of competing for a playoff spot this year — which they do — and going at that goal in a methodical, step-by-step fashion.

It’s the famous “process” thing so many NFL coaches talk about.

The Steelers are still working to piece together the most effective offensive line they can field, improve the running game, and integrate a young receiver in George Pickens into a consistent weapon. So maybe Trusbisky’s experience is invaluable to help the team grow.

Kenny Pickett Is A Reach For Greatness

But Pickett is a serious temptation to be the Steelers’ quarterback. And a gamble.

There’s no doubt this will be his team eventually. He is the future.

But there’s also no doubt if Trubisky were to win the job and then struggle over an extended number of games, the future would arrive way faster than some might expect because Pickett would be in the lineup. This season.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – AUGUST 20: Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass during the first half of a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on August 20, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images)

But what if Tomlin, perhaps believing his team may not be Super Bowl worthy with a good-but-not-great Steelers quarterback, wants to gamble on Pickett being special?

What if the Steelers decide the fastest way to help Pickett reach his ceiling is to let him play now and immediately start the clock on that climb?

That would be courageous but also filled with the possibility of pratfalls with long lasting effects.

One possible pratfall? The Steelers can start Trubisky and if that goes poorly, go to Pickett who is the future. But it’s much, much harder to start with Pickett and bench him for Trubisky if that goes poorly because that is a proven way to deflate a young quarterback’s confidence.

So Trubisky is the likely call, many NFL people agree.

It’s safe. It’s logical. It offers a viable fallback position.

Now we see how eager Mike Tomlin is to embrace safe and logical.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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