Guess what, folks. It’s training camp time. And that means it’s time for training camp questions. For the first time since 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers are actually back at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe after having been forced to remain in Pittsburgh, where they held their past two training camps inside of the Field Formerly Known as Heinz.
Even though the Steelers are back on very familiar ground, more specifically on that of Chuck Noll Field, this is a training camp that is unusually full of certainty. After all, they haven’t had a genuine quarterback battle in a couple of decades, but they have one now with Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph.
We’ve got yet another new offensive line, with some incoming veterans in James Daniels and Mason Cole. Myles Jack is in at inside linebacker, replacing Joe Schobert, and we’ll have to see if Devin Bush can return to form after last year’s dismal display.
There’s still so much going on, and training camp will only create more questions as we go along, even as it starts to provide some answers. We’ll be covering them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: At what point can we start evaluating Mitch Trubisky?
I wrote a stock watch article about Mitch Trubisky yesterday, arguing that, based on the first six practices of training camp, his stock was down based on the way that he performed. I allowed for numerous caveats, particularly the lack of availability of basically all of the team’s most notable skill position players, but some comments I got back implied—or did more than imply—that he can’t be evaluated yet, even preliminarily.
He’s new to the team (of course, so is Kenny Pickett, who is also a rookie). Okay. He’s learning a new offense. But how many veteran starting quarterbacks signed in free agency would get this excuse? And if Trubisky is playing with second-string skill position players, who are the other quarterbacks playing with—along with second- and third-string linemen?
I argue that evaluation is a fluid process to which there is never a final conclusion, at least until a player retires, and because of that, I don’t believe there is much room for there being a time ‘too early’ to offer one—provided that the appropriate level of importance is applied to it.
Yesterday’s article was merely an observation on the general analysis of his performance through the Steelers’ first six practices of training camp. I didn’t read a single positive review of any of his first six days in Latrobe.
But that’s just the beginning. And it’s already evolving. Trubisky had a better day of practice yesterday. I could easily write another stock watch article for today noting the one-day improvement, though I would hope that he can stack at least a few good practices together, first.
Let’s be clear about something. I don’t have a dog in the race for who the Steelers’ quarterback is. Ideally, the rookie draft pick will prove to be worth the investment in time, but if we’re talking about the 2021 season, I have nothing for nor against Trubisky, nor Mason Rudolph, nor Kenny Pickett. I think the best quarterback should be the one playing, regardless of who that is, and I have no preconceived notions of who the best will be by the end of August.
I’d just like there to be a genuine competition. I don’t think it should be anybody’s “job to lose”, as we’ve heard in certain reports. Trubisky did not get off to the greatest start with his new team, but there’s still plenty of time to write his story. This is just the very beginning. No conclusions have been drawn, nor should they be, but he undeniably has to do better.