NFL Network’s Inside Training Camp Live had Tom Pelissero, Kurt Warner, and Scott Hansen in Latrobe to cover the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday. After practice concluded, Warner sat down with HC Mike Tomlin to gauge the state of his football team heading into the 2022 season. Naturally, after talking about Tomlin’s experiences playing the game of football, the conversation landing on the most anticipated topic for the Steelers this training camp: the QB competition.
When asked by Warner what will be the determining factor in choosing a winner of the QB competition, Tomlin mentioned that being excellent at the basics what he is looking for in his next starting quarterback.
“You know, oftentimes we spend a long time talking about capabilities, the ceiling, if you will, splash play capabilities, leadership, comeback ability and things of that nature,” Tomlin said to Warner. “I’ve really been focused on the floor. Routine things I think a varsity level player or starter in this league makes routine plays routinely. So, I want to see consistent flat accuracy I want to see routine decisions being made in a different a timely manner. I want to see them maintain possession of the football. I want to see them do the informal things that come with the position. The young wideouts have that warm and fuzzy feeling encouraging and nurture and develop a guy like George Pickens.”
Tomlin has mentioned desiring a high floor in the past after the selection of Kenny Pickett was made, calling the former Pitt QB a “mature, high floor” player, which prompted them to take him over all the other prospects at the position in the 2022 NFL Draft. The same can likely be said for Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph who both have winning records as starting QBs in the NFL, but don’t have that crazy upside other players like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen have.
Still, Tomlin is looking to transition to a team that plays good defense and finds its identity in running the football, calling RB Najee Harris the engine of the offense earlier this offseason when he made a guest appearance on The Pivot Podcast. Since this is the identity that Tomlin’s wants his football team to have now that Ben Roethlisberger has retired, it makes sense for Tomlin to desire a starting QB that does the routine things routinely. A quarterback that protects the football, displays accuracy as a passer, and shows poise are often the baseline traits associated with the position, but often get overshadowed by impressive speed or arm talent at the position.
Tomlin also mentioned the fact that his starting QB needs to display “informal” characteristics like the bond they create with their WR core. For so long, Ben had a mind meld with guys like Antonio Brown, Hines Ward, and most recently Diontae Johnson the last couple of years. Now, a new name needs to step up and do the same with Johnson or a young, talented receiver like George Pickens, who Tomlin mentions above, as he will likely be the future of the Steelers’ WR core for years to come.
Greatness is often associated with how much physical talent one possesses. However, the greats often credit their success to being obsessed with the process. Putting in thousands of hours of physical training, film study, and repping the movements needed to be successful at one’s craft. That’s the way Tomlin sees it for the QB competition with the Pittsburgh Steelers, stating the most steady hand will be the one to steer the ship in 2022.
“And so, I really think at the end of the day is not going to be the spectacular that makes the determining factor of who the guy is,” Tomlin continued. “It’s going to be the mundane, routine things and to what level that it gets done on a consistent basis.”