The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves at a crossroads, and it’s only been three weeks.
We all hoped for more, but I believe deep down inside our black-and-gold brains, we knew this could also be an outcome.
We had all dreamt of Matt Canada’s offense being worked to perfection with new additions to the group. We had all had visions of Brian Flores’ imprint, along with Teryl Austin and Mike Tomlin, creating a freak-of-nature type defense who could slow down any offensive attack.
But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we also have to admit we knew there was a chance this wouldn’t start off well. Maybe we didn’t think it would be this bad, but the odds of the Steelers struggling out of the gate were very real.
Whatever you thought of the potential the Steelers possessed in 2022, here they are sitting at 1-2 after a Week 3 Thursday night loss to the Cleveland Browns. The most recent loss certainly did leave a sting with the fan base, and many clamoring for change.
Even for those who had the understanding this could take time, and patience, they want change. And they want it now.
The problem with this type of thought is simple — where is the change going to come from?
Going to fire Mike Tomlin?
Yeah, no chance.
Going to fire Matt Canada?
While they might alter some of the duties during the season, trying to start over fresh with a new coordinator would only make matters worse, not necessarily better.
Want to add players from the outside to bolster positions?
If a player is still a free agent heading into Week 4, there is a reason they are on the open mark. Take a hard pass.
You get the picture. So, what change does this leave? It leaves just one change — quarterback.
The Steelers could very well tell Mitch Trubisky ‘thank you’ for all you’ve done for the team this first month of the season, but they are now turning things over to rookie Kenny Pickett.
It’s what fans want, and it would be the change many are craving at this juncture in the season. But would it be enough? Would it fix all their woes? You know better than that. Things certainly could be better, offensively, but would it be the cure-all for all that ails this team?
At this point in time, you should expect Mike Tomlin to stick with Trubisky for at least the foreseeable future. Trubisky is a veteran, and he has also withstood the angst and vitriol of a fan base during his time with the Chicago Bears. He can take the heat, and in the process Pickett will get an up-close-and-personal view of what expectations at the NFL level look like on a weekly basis.
I’m not saying this is what I think Tomlin should do, but what I believe he will do.
Some might view this type of stubbornness as a negative, and damaging to both the fan base and the organization. But there is also a real chance Trubisky remains the guy until they feel Pickett is both physically, and mentally, ready to step in and take the reigns.
Just look at the upcoming schedule before the team’s bye week in Week 9:
Week 4: vs. New York Jets (1-1)
Week 5: at Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Week 6: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
Week 7: at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
Week 8: at Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)
That is a stretch which is playing out much tougher than we all thought when the regular season schedule was released this past spring. Does it make sense for Tomlin to stick with Trubisky, and if things spiral out of control, go to Pickett after the bye?
The schedule doesn’t look quite as daunting after the bye week.
Week 10: vs. New Orleans Saints
Week 11: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 12: at Indianapolis Colts
Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons
Week 14: vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 15: at Carolina Panthers
Week 16: vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Week 17: at Baltimore Ravens
Week 18: vs. Cleveland Browns
If the Trubisky era doesn’t last the entire season, and Tomlin is devout in sticking with his pick at quarterback for as long as possible, the bye week might just be the time when a change is made.
But let’s bring this all back to the start. Is it change for what could be seen as an improvement, or change just for change? I suggest you beware of the latter, changing just to change is a slippery slope, but if you are changing because you feel the changes made will help you win more games? I’m all for it.
No one is demanding Kendrick Green take over for Kevin Dotson at left guard, nor are fans suggesting Chris Wormley should take starting reps over someone like Larry Ogunjobi or Cam Heyward. The change fans want has to be both realistic and impactful. It comes down to one position, the most important position in professional sports, and whether that change comes anytime soon is anyone’s guess...but I’ll say it will be later, rather than sooner.