The Pittsburgh Steelers officially start the 2022 season on September 11th when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH, and Mike Tomlin has yet to officially announce who is starting at the most important position — quarterback.
The options are:
- Former No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, Mitch Trubisky
- Pittsburgh hero, native to New Jersey, Kenny Pickett who brought an ACC Championship to University of Pittsburgh and has been elevated to high status in the hearts and minds of the city
Back at the start of training camp, I wrote an article referencing why Kenny Pickett should, and will, be given an opportunity to state his claim to being QB1. In the article I listed Pickett’s accomplishments to that point, but stated if Pickett made the starting lineup Week 1, not due to injury, it would be because of what he did in a Steelers uniform. Throughout training camp and preseason, and he would have to outperform Mitch Trubisky.
Now that the meaningless games are completed, and game tape is out there, the debate is high on who won the battle. Mike Tomlin has alluded he may have a starter, but at the time of writing this article, he has refused to officially announce the starter, stating in a recent press conference when asked if was ready to name a starting quarterback, “No, I'm Not”.
Tomlin was then asked how close the competition was, Tomlin replied, “Who's to say it's not settled, I’m just not making any announcements because its fruitless for us. We just have work ahead of us and so that’s not on our agenda to make any announcements to feed the beast. We don’t care about the beast.”
I learned a long time ago watching Tomlin and the Steelers to believe what you see, not so much what is said. Trubisky has been taking the majority of the snaps with the starters in training camp, practice and preseason. Several players independently have confirmed Trubisky as being QB1.
So, why not announce Trubisky as the starter?
Sure, there is a potential competitive advantage by not telling the Bengals who the Steelers plan to start, thus making them plan for two different quarterbacks. However, I think the Bengals have figured Trubisky the starter already.
Could not naming Trubisky as the starter do more damage than good? Giving the black and gold fan base, who already look up to Pickett as the heir apparent, hope that Pickett will be given the nod ahead of Trubisky is building up great anticipation that will lead to mass disappointment. Don't be surprised if the boo birds are out early, similar to what was heard in Acrisure Stadium when Mason Rudolph walked on the field for the first time in 2022. I don't think the boos were entirely directed at Mason as much as it wasn't Pickett entering the game. Nonetheless, once Trubisky makes an error, the “Kenny” chants will be heard louder than before.
What could be worse than the fan base investing into the battle for QB1 narrative is that the media has also bought into craze. There isn't a sports channel or network not covering the Trubisky vs. Pickett battle. As stated before, the players are already answering questions about the battle. If Mitch struggles, those questions will be magnified and could lead to a distraction to the team. It also could lead to a swift transition to Pickett.
The Steelers don't plan to fail, so when Tomlin announces Mitch Trubisky as the starter, the plan is for Trubisky to be successful and lead the Steelers on a playoff run. But if Trubisky struggles early, the Steelers may have to transition to Plan B much sooner than anticipated.
Could holding off on announcing Trubisky the starter create a huge disappointment from the fan base that will reflect in the stadium towards Trubisky when he has an error? Do you think holding the announcement could affect Trubisky’s confidence? Let us know in the comment section below!