The Pittsburgh Steelers more or less executed the intended plan that head coach Mike Tomlin set forth for the preseason finale earlier tonight. Mitch Trubisky played the entire first half at quarterback, with Kenny Pickett playing the bulk of the second half, and Mason Rudolph finishing out the game.
Going in, the prevailing assumption was that it would take something drastic for Trubisky to not be named the week-one starter, and nothing drastic happened. Indeed, the veteran put forth his best preseason showing yet despite ample issues from his offensive line, especially in penalties. Yet Tomlin isn’t naming names right now, as he told reporters when asked if he has a starting quarterback yet:
I might, but you guys are not gonna have it today. Like I told you guys the other week, we’re not gonna make kneejerk reactions and statements following a performance. We’ll go through our proper, professional procedure. We’ll evaluate the game, we’ll meet with our front office people, we’ll have discussions, we’ll talk internally, we’ll talk external possibilities, we’ll go through our normal procedure this time of year, and we’ll disclose it to you at our leisure, to be quite honest with you.
Trubisky completed 15 out of 19 passes in the game for 160 yards, throwing a touchdown to end the two-minute drive at the end of the first quarter. It was his first touchdown drive since his first series on the first drive of the Steelers’ first preseason game.
They ultimately put points on the board on four of Trubisky’s six possessions, including three field goals from kicker Chris Boswell, who also had one field goal attempt blocked in the second half. Two of those scoring drives, however, began inside the Detroit Lions’ 25-yard line, one off of an interception and return, the other a turnover on downs.
The second series of the game was notable, however, as a 10-play 78-yard affair, and the final drive spanned 83 yards on six plays, ending with a touchdown to Steven Sims. Multiple drives were stalled by offensive penalties on the offensive line.
Pickett played three series, all three of which, to his credit, picked up at least one first down. The offense attempted two field goals, of which one, as previously noted, was blocked. He finished 10-of-14 throwing for 90 yards. Rudolph’s one series saw him attempt three passes, all incomplete, though he didn’t exactly get much help.
While Tomlin will not reveal the answer now, we all know very well what the hierarchy is. Trubisky will start on opening day and Pickett will be active as his backup. Rudolph could still potentially be moved via trade—there are several teams in need of an upgrade as a backup quarterback—but otherwise, he will be the gameday inactive quarterback.