The big question surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into the 2022 season pertained to how the depth chart would shake out at the QB position. It was perceived that Mitch Trubisky would be the starter to open the season after Pittsburgh rolled with him as the #1 throughout the spring and summer. However, the backup role was more up in the air going through training camp with Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Pickett pushing each other for that role.
However, after the initial depth chart came out listing Rudolph as the #2 and Pickett as the #3, the Steelers made a change shortly before Tomlin’s press conference, putting Pickett at the QB2 spot on the depth chart to their Week 1 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Tomlin cited the incident as a “clerical error” and that the depth chart was decided well over a week ago.
Ben Roethlisberger recently talked on his new podcast Foobahlin with Ben Roethlisberger and spoke about the QB position as well as the team’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals and the state of the offensive line.
When asked if was that big of a deal for the team to have to fix the depth chart moving Kenny Pickett from #3 to #2 ahead of Mason Rudolph as the primary backup QB, Ben acknowledged that it has some importance because of what the backup QB means to the team and specifically what it meant to his career.“Yeah, no, it’s a big deal,” Roethlisberger said on Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger. “It’s probably not a big deal on how it was in the depth chart. Like, they screwed it up. Both of you guys are trying to back up to the number one guy. But to me, the backup, and I’ve had some amazing backups, like some guys and I hate to call ’em backups, like co-quarterbacks guys that did it with me.”
Roethlisberger has had a slew of notable backup quarterbacks during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He mentioned Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch, and Bruce Gradkowski by name as just a few of the guys that have shared the room with him and have personally helped him with his own development as well as have been able to step in when he missed time and keep the team afloat.
“And what I learned from those guys, the backup role for quarterback is to be ready to play at all times because I couldn’t imagine like sitting there and then all of a sudden, like something happens and it’s like, ‘Oh, I got to go in, like I get my arm loose and I got to be mentally ready to play’,” Ben said on the backup QB. “That being said, the backup’s job is to do everything they can to help get the starter ready to play. So, they have to be ready to answer questions, to help with film, to help with the defense.”
The backup quarterback is an interesting position to be in. Normally, you want to push for a starting job regardless of your position in the NFL to help the team succeed. However, the backup QB must take up the role of being a servant leader as Roethlisberger stated, being able to be ready at a moment’s notice cold off the bench to help the team achieve victory, but also play more of a complementary role to the team, helping the starter study and feel prepared for game action.
It’s a difficult role to be in, hence why Ben commended his previous backups in the league. Pickett and Rudolph understand this as they prepare to backup Mitch Trubisky, both stating that they will do their best to be that extra coach on the sideline to help him anyway possible to help the offense be successful and hopefully win football games.