Why the Steelers haven’t turned to Kenny Pickett yet and what the rookie QB can bring to the Pittsburgh offense

Less than two games into Mitch Trubisky’s tenure as the Steelers’ starting quarterback, Pittsburgh stalwarts began raining chants for Kenny Pickett at Acrisure Stadium. Predecessor of great name Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t think Trubisky deserves the boo, and coach Mike Tomlin is “exercising due patience” with his current starter. But why, you ask? After such a top-notch investment in Pickett, why are the Steelers still committed to the Trubisky experiment going into Week 3?

Trubisky, to be clear, wasn’t the only sore spot on a foul that racked up just 14 points in a Week 2 loss to the Patriots and was nearly outdone by a turnover-lucky Bengals team in Week 1. The remade O of the Steelers line is still a work in progress, and returning Najee Harris has averaged 2.9 yards per carry through two games. But statistically and visually, the ex-Bears starter is thoroughly “meh.” His passer rating (76.1) ranks 29th among active starters, completing less than 60% of his throws, and averaging fewer yards per attempt (5.1) than literally any other first series QB in the NFL.

That latest performance is probably the biggest indication yet that, while QB is an issue, the Steelers have an equally pressing concern about the offensive coordinator, where sophomore Matt Canada has called one of the most conservative short-field strikes in the league. Canada and Roethlisberger also played notoriously safe in last year’s 9-7-1 finish.

As for Trubisky, whose athleticism has often been overshadowed by ill-timed decisions in Chicago, it’s very possible Canada’s system is protecting the QB from itself. But that brings us back to the point, suing Trubisky as a low-ceiling signal caller. There are other issues, of course: why isn’t Canada using Trubisky’s legs, one of the QB’s best physical aids, more often? Why isn’t more effort being made to get the ball creatively in the hands of playmakers like Diontae Johnson and George Pickens? But perhaps Canada and Co. Trubisky not enough to release him in any way. In that case, we are back to the Real square one: why haven’t the Steelers made the move to Pickett already? Is the rookie really that unprepared?

The truth lies in the past, says Demetri George, former analyst for PFF and SB Nation Steelers, particularly in Mike Tomlin’s summer commentary on Trubisky that offers true NFL experience.

“The Steelers have a new center, a new right guard, a rookie wide receiver,” explains George. “Overall, the attack is young. So Mike’s thought is let’s provide some stability – at least in the beginning – with a veteran, regardless of outside opinions. Mike Tomlin sees this team as one that has a chance to Whatever we think, there is a belief in Tomlin and in the building that this offense will eventually be a lot further than it is now.”

You would hope so. In theory, it makes sense that the Steelers would rather go into the season with the option to bench Trubisky for Pickett, their chosen future, rather than the other way around. But for all the perceived benefits of Trubisky’s experience, his five-year NFL career also gives us a good idea of ​​the player he is and, more importantly, isn’t.

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Pickett, on the other hand, is a fresh arm and spirit. Its built-in hometown connection, like a Pittsburgh product, is nice. But even more enticing is the veteran-esque attitude he showed in college and this preseason, when he held out against the pressure and showed the qualities of a regular point guard at the position. Considered more stable than stunning as a prospect, Pickett could be just what the Steelers need and what Tomlin is looking for. Notably, the coach regarded the rookie as “Steady Eddie” after his first training camp, praising his ability to shake off a bad environment — like, say, his own team’s offensive philosophy?

Now, after a few Trubisky performances that were unspectacular at best and unreliable at worst, Tomlin is under pressure to decide when to suspend “veteran experience” for “actual results,” let alone that long-term benefit. George suspects the coach still believes Trubisky deserves “more time to learn with the line, the play-caller, the receivers.” as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, the Steelers also have a history of slow starting offensive under Tomlin.

That’s exactly why Week 3’s Thursday night matchup with the Browns is so important. Tomlin has traditionally been more patient than most in the industry, and a change of offensive coordinator during the season would be a break from tradition under former general manager Kevin Colbert. Assuming Canada is safe until 2022, then Trubisky could have a lot in the way he performs against Cleveland in prime time, with the Steelers positioned to actually lead the confused AFC North.

All Tomlin’s clues suggest Trubisky can survive another mediocre game or two. On the other hand, Tomlin has never faced a QB decision with such long-term implications before. And he’ll have plenty of time to change his mind after Thursday, when the Steelers are given a long hiatus leading to a seemingly winable home game against the Jets – a home game where fans will no doubt be loud and clear about which QB they’d prefer under the game. have middle.