By Jeremy Hritz
Wow, what a shocker.
Not that it means anything, or that it is indicative of who will be the regular season starter come the first game in Cincinnati, but Mike Tomlin announced during his Thursday press conference that Mitch Trubisky would in fact be the starter in the first preseason game against the Seahawks.
I talked earlier in the week about Tomlin’s comments about Trubisky’s experience and having more seasoning than both Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett, and I used it as an opportunity to reiterate that the starting spot is Trubisky’s to lose. He wasn’t signed as a free agent, even though it as a modest contract for a quarterback, not to be the starter.
The organization has already witnessed what Rudolph can do as the starter, and not that it’s bad, but it has been average at best. While he may still have an outside chance to start for the team, though I still hold to the belief that he will be traded before the end of camp, the team must have felt confident and encouraged by what Trubisky offered, concluded it was more valuable than Rudolph, and signed him as a consequence. If they didn’t believe that he offered more, than why would they sign another player of equal talent to someone already on the roster?
Trubisky will be given every opportunity to show that this is his team and that he can be the leader to take this 2022 unit to the postseason. However, that opportunity will be limited, and if he is not playing up to the standard by week 6 or 7, at that point the team will have enough evidence to make a decision to go in a different direction.
This is where the team’s hand will be telling. If Rudolph is kept around following camp, it would be indicative of their lack of belief in Pickett’s readiness, and the Pitt product will serve as the QB#3 for the year. If Rudolph is moved, they believe that Pickett can step in if needed, and then a journeyman #3 will be sought in free agency. What the team does and does not do following camp will speak volumes about what they believe about the quarterback position.
It is a new era of Steelers football, and primarily because after 18 years, there is a new starting quarterback. Maybe Trubisky was not in the right support system in Chicago and is poised to have a late-career resurgence a la Ryan Tannehill.
Whatever the outcome, it’s going to be a fun story to see unfold, starting this Saturday against the Seahawks in Pittsburgh.