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One vital characteristic necessary to be an ideal backup quarterback

Backup quarterbacks are backups for a reason, and the best ones fully embrace their role.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Jets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Every individual roaming the planet is unique, one of a kind if you will. Many are blessed with special attributes and abilities that distinguish them from their peers. Truly comprehending your own strengths and weaknesses is often the first step on the pathway to sustainable success and personal growth.

I often think about this simple truth when watching contestants trying out for a spot on a popular singing competition. I am blown away by all the enablers. The well meaning parents of contestants who honestly can't sing a lick. Each contestant walks in bright eyed and bushy tailed, only to emerge sobbing and snotting. The delusional parents I am referring to immediately comfort their heartbroken offspring by claiming the judges are all wrong, and their baby is going to be a star. That's not love, that's borderline child abuse.

Every individual who has ever participated in athletics has experienced various degrees of success and failure. Eventually we all realize that we have reached the extent of our capabilities. There is often a seemingly strange contentment in the clarity of that moment, when the unrealistic pressure of personal expectations fades away, and the maturity required for meaningful evaluations can begin.

All of the best backup quarterbacks in NFL history have come to that same crossroads at some point in their NFL careers. Legends like Don Strock, Frank Reich, Jeff Hostetler, and Nick Foles immediately come to mind. Guys who would have been or were marginal NFL starters, but were exceptional backups. Always ready, willing, and able when called upon.

Some have enjoyed varying degrees of success as starters at certain points of their careers, with Doug Williams, Hostetler, and Foles actually winning Super Bowls as emergency relief. They were never huge stars, but they accomplished something some legends never did.

The Steelers have had their own standout backup quarterbacks in the past half century. Which only makes sense when you consider that the Steelers have been blessed with two franchise QBs over that span in Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger, gentlemen who's Hall of Fame careers covered more than half of that time frame.

Bubby Brister, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Tommy Maddox, and Bruce Gradkowski to name a few. Brister enjoyed limited success as a starter with the Steelers, but proved to be a more reliable player as a backup elsewhere. All the rest had their own memorable moments with the Steelers, proving clutch when it mattered most.

All these standouts mentioned thus far wouldn't have been able to achieve their accomplishments without the aforementioned enlightenment. They would have been unable to adequately perform their duties if they were constantly competing with the established starter. There is a certain amount of trust required in any optimal relationship between a franchise QB and his understudy.

There is a well known theory that if you believe that you have two or three starter capable quarterbacks, then you really don't have one.

That is precisely the position the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers currently find themselves in. The Steelers initial depth chart at quarterback to open OTAs appears to be Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and Kenny Pickett. So far all three have said all the right things when there has been a microphone shoved in their face, but would you honestly expect anything less from a Pittsburgh Steelers QB, with a rabid fanbase hanging on your every word.

Even if the three contestants competing for the top two spots create no drama of their own, you can be sure their individual performances will create plenty, especially amongst the media and fanbase. Any and every subpar pass will be overanalyzed immediately, coupled with urgent pleading for the next in line. This is inevitable and unavoidable I am afraid, at least until a clear pecking order can be established.

This reality dampens my enthusiasm for the Steelers chances of contending this season, if I am being totally honest. Situations like these usually take a good bit of time and hardwork to figure out. I can't imagine that the Steelers will carry four quarterbacks this season, even if one is on the practice squad, so one young man is going to draw the short straw.

Based solely on the aforementioned criteria necessary to be an ideal backup quarterback for the Steelers this season, which candidate best fits the description.

Kenny Pickett would be the least likely at first glance. He currently has zero NFL experience, a requisite for any passer asked to potentially come into a contest cold at a moments notice. Often walking into an unfavorable situation after the starter has been knocked out of the game, or removed for ineffectiveness. Not the ideal situation for an untested rookie, who's confidence can be easily shaken. Struggles are inevitable, but scars often remain.

Mitch Trubisky fits the profile, considering his marginal success thus far in the NFL, coupled with the fact he was an exceptional understudy for Josh Allen in Buffalo last season, based on all accounts. However, he is a former first round selection who still possesses first round talent, based on all the glowing reviews from his Buffalo Bills teammates. He was brought in to be a bridge quarterback, and I believe odds are he will be just that.

That brings us to Mason Rudolph, a player I feel could be an ideal QB2. I have said no less for going on two years now. His talent level suggest a solid and reliable backup career, but only if and when he can accept that reality. I believe that the opportunity to have that long-term job security as a backup QB in Pittsburgh has passed, but he can still find work in the NFL if he wants it.

A place to call home. There are worse fates than getting paid millions to hold a tablet, support the starter, and stay prepared to be called upon in a moment's notice.

Let your Steelers voice be heard. Please vote for who you think will be the Steelers backup quarterback to start the 2022 season, and share your opinions why in the comments section.


Who do you think the Steelers backup QB will be?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    A = Mitch Trubisky
    (81 votes)
  • 46%
    B = Kenny Pickett
    (184 votes)
  • 30%
    C = Mason Rudolph
    (119 votes)
  • 2%
    D = Chris Oladokun
    (8 votes)
392 votes total Vote Now