On Monday’s morning’s edition of Good Morning Football on NFL Network, the show hosts discussed the Pittsburgh Steelers and their outlook for the 2022 season. While several media analysts have written off the team as one looking to likely rebuild this season after seeing Ben Roethlisberger retire after the 2021 season concluded as well as having DL Stephon Tuitt retire along with long-time GM Kevin Colbert, GMFB’s Peter Schrager remains optimistic that this Steelers team shouldn’t be any worse than the team that took the field last season.
“Like Mike Tomlin has never coached a bad team,” Schrager said on GMFB. “And yet, I’m looking at some of the people talking about the Steelers and they’re talking 5, 6, 7 wins. Is this a rebuilding Steeler team, or a team that went to the playoffs last year and have the reigning defensive player of the year lining up as T.J. Watt will be doing Week 1? I’m so curious what we get, because gosh, there’s whispers with the coaches around the league, maybe Trubisky is an upgrade from Roethlisberger. I don’t know if Ben was slinging it like he used to. The 2021 version of Ben was not the same version it was five years ago.”
There are several key components from Schrager’s comments that can be picked out here. First, he quotes the long-standing reality that HC Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season on his resume, regardless of the circumstances of the team for that given year. While he said that Tomlin’s has never had a bad team, one could point to the teams in the early 2010s where the defense struggled to stop a nosebleed defensively or last season where Pittsburgh has its worst run defense in history, but still managed to make the playoffs.
You can also look to 2019 when Ben went down for the year with an elbow injury and the team relied on Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges to lead the offense. Despite having a poor offense overall, Pittsburgh still managed to avoid having a losing season and remained in the playoff hunt until the final weeks of the season.
Schrager also makes the comment about Mitch Trubisky being a capable starting option for Pittsburgh in 2022 and potentially being an upgrade over the 2021 version of Roethlisberger. According to sources he’s spoken with around the league, apparently there is some expectation that Trubisky could outperform Ben in the Steelers offense this upcoming season given the regression Ben has seen in recent years in terms of his arm strength and mobility in the pocket to extend plays. These aspects have some merit as Trubisky undoubtedly brings more mobility to the table than Roethlisberger did in recent years and looks to have more arm strength at this stage than Ben did near the end of 2021.
The real question will be if Trubisky can replicate what Ben did for the offense from the neck up, being cerebral enough to make the correct reads and effectively move the offense down the field to lead scoring drives. This is one thing he tended to struggle with during his time in Chicago, but a change of scenery in Pittsburgh could be a breath of fresh air he needs to reset his career.
If Pittsburgh wants to avoid a down season like many project, the QB position must execute in 2022, regardless of if it’s Trubisky, Mason Rudolph or Kenny Pickett. According to Schrager, there is some optimism around the league that the Steelers shouldn’t see any drop off from Roethlisberger to Trubisky this season, if not a slight potential upgrade in play.
“Are they a contender? It’s going to be up to Trubisky or Kenny Pickett,” Schrager concluded on the Steelers.