Being a fan of football in general, NFL football more specifically, and Steelers football at the most specific, is both rewarding and frustrating in many ways. We surf tidal waves of joy with most victories and feel the crushing tsunami of despair with every defeat, and yet we keep on coming back for more. The games are stories and seasons become legends in the blink of an eye. Heroes and villains are created, destroyed, or switch roles with each passing play, and each passing game.
As one epic tale sees its end, and before a new one can begin to be told, we, as fans, enter into a new type of story. This particular story is the tale of the off-season, equally as epic in its own way, though drastically different in style. In these tales, the struggles and triumphs of heroes and villains gives way to supposition and narrative building. This type of story can be the most frustrating for the fans, as these narratives and suppositions are not firmly built on a bedrock of fact, but on a foundation of best guesswork. Where the same action or situation can simultaneously be both good and bad based solely on the preferences of the one doing the guessing and that person's loyalties.
One of those narratives revolves around the likelihood of Mitch Trubisky being the starter at quarterback to not only open the season, but for the entire 2022 campaign. This idea is treated as fact, despite team statements of competition at the position.
This narrative is born out of the narrative that the Steelers have zero confidence in Mason Rudolph moving forward. The basis for the Mason Rudolph narrative being that the Steelers would not have signed free agent Mitch Trubisky on day one of free agency, only to follow up with a first round selection of a QB in the draft. While addition support for the argument is found in statements by players and staff, it still remains a large guess, when the backdrop is a team with a single player at the position on the roster. This sort of reasoning is not applied to Trubisky's situation, however, as no one points to the Steelers drafting two Qbs, including a first round selection, as a reason to question the team's faith in Trubisky and his ability to lead the team into 2022 and beyond.
This leads to another phase of the narrative. This phase of the narrative points to Trubisky being the Steelers' starting QB for the entirety of the 2022 season in order to allow Kenny Pickett to sit and learn. While a common theme throughout the NFL in discussions of handling rookie QBs, it is a practice that is neither as common as presented, nor does it produce results demonstrably better than any other approach to handling a rookie QB. Additionally, this fails to take into account the way Coach Tomlin and the team have managed rookies, particularly of the first round variety, in the last few years. Since Artie Burns in 2016, every first round draft pick of the Steelers has been the starter at his position from game one. Out of those players, only one, Terrell Edmunds, was originally slated to be a back up at the beginning of his rookie year.
Another part of the narrative is that Trubisky will be the starter because of his salary. This usually works in conjunction with the no faith on Rudolph part of the narrative, as it points to the significant difference in pay with Rudolph being slated to make $3 million in contrast to Trubisky's approximate $7 million base pay. However, we're we to base the likelihood solely on 2022 salary, Kenny Pickett would surpass both. This part of the narrative also points to Trubisky's salary being high for a backup, while leaving out that his salary is in line with the higher end backups at the position throughout the league.
What we know for certain is that the Steelers have two veteran QBs, with different career paths and results, along with two rookie QBs of different pedigrees and projected career possibilities. We also know that the Steelers' coaching staff has a plan to evaluate each for the best option as a starter. Additionally, we know that those plans are currently being executed. Outside of these few facts, everything else that is being presented is pure guesswork.
Far too often, we as fans forget that these narratives are what they are, simple guesswork. This is often due to those presenting the narratives having a history from covering the team, and that history making guesses seem like truth and fact. They still remain guesses in the end, and should never be used to disparage ideas and possibilities presented in a counter argument to the idea being presented.
This passion that is being a fan of Pittsburgh Steelers football is rollercoaster, let's all enjoy its visceral realness, and not the stories and narratives that are woven for us.