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Is Trubisky The Second-Best Steelers QB Going Into Training Camp Since 2004?

As I was scrolling through my morning feed on Steelers Depot’s Twitter account, a tweet that Dave Bryan put out on Saturday stuck out to me:

 

Looking at the list above got me thinking, “Is Mitch Trubisky the second-best QB the Pittsburgh Steelers have taken into training camp since Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004?

When looking at the list of QBs that have accompanied Ben to Latrobe, PA since he entered the league, the question has a legitimate case. Several of the names at the bottom of the list never occurred to me that they were on the Steelers’ roster at any point of time in their careers. Some names like John Parker Wilson, Tajh Boyd, and Brian St. Pierre I knew were on the team (mainly thanks to Madden) but were of little consequence during their respective tenures in Pittsburgh.

While Devlin Hodges, Dennis Dixon, Josh Dobbs, Landry Jones, and Bruce Gradkowski have served as backup-level options and a few have been starting options in the league, it’s safe to say that their career accomplishments and overall talent don’t equate to what Trubisky has done thus far in his career in the league.

That leaves us with Mason Rudolph, Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch, and Tommy Maddox as the contenders for the #2 spot behind Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph will directly be competing against Trubisky this summer to win the starting job for the 2022 season, so an argument could be made there given the fact he has a winning record in his limited action as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting QB. Still, despite having Rudolph on the roster as a potential heir-apparent to Ben, Pittsburgh elected to sign Trubisky on the first day of free agency and draft Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, suggesting that the team may not believe Rudolph to be the long-term answer based on his performance to-date.

Leftwich is in a similar boat to Trubisky as a former top ten pick (seventh overall in 2003) to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but failed to develop as the franchise QB he was drafted to be. He posted back-to-back eight-win seasons in 2004 and 2005, but struggled with injuries and efficiency as a passer, getting benched in his fourth season and was relegated to a backup/spot starter role ever since. Trubisky similarly flamed out in Chicago. He produced two playoff appearances in four seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl in his second year, showing instances of starting-caliber QB play before signing with Buffalo in 2021.

Charlie Batch is well-known by yinzers as a long-time backup for the Steelers during the 2000s, but he also was a regular starting QB for the Detroit Lions from 1998 to 2001 after being selected in the second round of the 1998 NFL Draft. While Batch has 55 starts to his name in his NFL career, his record as a starter was 25-30 during his time with the Lions and Steelers, topping out at 13 TD passes in a single season in 2000 along with 15 INTs in the same year. While a capable game manager during his time In Pittsburgh (6-3 record), Batch’s upside was capped based on his abilities as a passer as well as his overall mobility, which are two advantages that Trubisky has over him.

Tommy Maddox has a similar story to Leftwich and Trubisky, being a former first-round selection of the Denver Broncos in 1992 (25th overall). However, his time in Denver ended before it ever began as he would only start four games as a rookie, going 0-4 in those contests and never proceeded to start another game for the team. Maddox would go on to spend time with the Rams, Giants, Falcons, New Jersey Red Dogs, and Los Angeles Xtreme before getting to Pittsburgh in 2001. He finished his starting career in Pittsburgh with a 15-16-1 record, tossing 42 TDs to 40 INTs. For his career Maddox threw more INTs than TDs in the NFL (48 to 54).

The argument could be made here that Kenny Pickett deserves that second spot, but seeing as he is only a rookie, we should wait to see what Pickett does in camp and in the preseason first before throwing him into the conversation. Trubisky, meanwhile, has the argument to be considered the second-best QB behind Ben entering training camp since Ben’s NFL career began. Again, it isn’t an impressive list, but if Trubisky can be considered the top said list and provide better than backup/spot starter play as an average NFL starting QB, Pittsburgh could be in good shape to be competitive in games this season depending on how the rest of the roster shakes out.

What are your thoughts on the list above? Do you think Trubisky is the second-best name on that list behind Roethlisberger? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!

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