The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: How long of a leash might Mitch Trubisky have if he begins the season as the starter (and Kenny Pickett was close in performance)?
If you put together odds on the various scenarios that could come to pass in the Steelers’ quarterback room this year, I think that at least the first couple of scenarios tied to Mitch Tribusky being the starter on opening day would have the strongest odds.
Then you’re tasked with figuring out what happens next. Was he the clear starter? Was it a close competition? Could we even through in Mason Rudolph? For the sake of this scenario, however, we are assuming that Trubisky is named the opening-day starter following a well-contested battle with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett—the veteran is the relatively clear winner, but Pickett looks like he very well may be able to play as well.
Under those circumstances, how long of a leash does Trubisky have before the coaching staff starts to consider putting the rookie in? Obviously he’s going to get at least a handful of games at the minimum. Let’s say they’re 4-4 at the bye week, however, and they are getting clearly very average or even slightly below average play from the quarterback position.
Is Pickett the starter on the other side of the bye week, ready to host the New Orleans Saints in Week 10? Could the tipping point be later than that? Earlier? Needless to say, we don’t know the answer to this question, can’t know, and won’t know unless it happens.
But it is probably one that a lot of people have thought about. Pickett is going to start, at some point. They wouldn’t have drafted him otherwise. But when? It doesn’t have to be in 2022. But if it is, and it’s not at the beginning of the season, what does a realistic timetable look like, assuming that the team would not bench Trubisky if he is playing well and winning games (which I think is a safe assumption)?