The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.
There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.
Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.
There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: Who will start at quarterback next week against the Miami Dolphins?
Boy, is this a loaded question. But it’s also the biggest question the Steelers are facing right now, I think, and so we’re asking it today. Who will be under center for their first snap next Sunday when they face the Miami Dolphins?
Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett was injured midway through the third quarter on a wobbly completed pass to Diontae Johnson. He took a hit as he threw, and he hit the back of his head on the grass as he whiplashed backward. He exited the game and was later ruled out with a concussion.
Mitch Trubisky finished up the game and provided surprising good play, including what ultimately proved to be the game-winning points and a shocking series of converted third downs of some distance beyond 10 yards.
But this is not, I think, a question about a quarterback ‘controversy’. This is a question of health and rookie preparedness. Pickett is in the concussion protocol, and he is going to have to take the steps to clear it throughout the week.
It will be difficult for a rookie quarterback to get in a full week’s worth of on-field preparation as he is working his way through the concussion protocol to be cleared, so the question becomes, is there enough time for him to get in his work to the point where the coaching staff feels comfortable starting him? Even if he clears protocols by the end of the week, there is a possibility that he dresses as the backup due to this reason.
It doesn’t hurt that Trubisky played well coming off the bench. And he played differently than he did while he was starting—as though he had nothing to lose, because, well, what he had to lose he already lost.
It will be very interesting to see how this week goes. It doesn’t need to be said out loud, but priority number one is Pickett’s health. Priority number two is his preparedness. If he is healthy and prepared to go, I believe he will start. If he’s not, then he won’t even dress. But if he’s healthy yet not fully prepared as a starter, we may still see him dress for that week as the number two—without sparking a ‘quarterback competition’.