What is the difference in the offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers between Mitch Trubisky at quarterback and Kenny Pickett at quarterback? Not in terms of how they perform, how they execute the plays, but by design, what will be different about, most obviously, the plays that they decide to run?
Head coach Mike Tomlin’s answer to that was more or less ‘get back to me in a few weeks’ when he was asked that question on Tuesday during his pre-game press conference in preparation for facing the Buffalo Bills, now with Pickett under center.
“I think that’ll be told over the course of the upcoming weeks with how we play from a personality standpoint and the things or the concepts that we choose to highlight in-stadium”, he said, via the team’s website, adding that they may pick from the same menu, but simply make different selections.
“Oftentimes you can go into a game with a list of 120 to 160 plays and what you pull off that ready list oftentimes dictates what is perceived as your personality”, he said. “So the plays that we pick off for Mitch might be slightly different in some ways than Kenny. That will be revealed over the course of the upcoming weeks, the differences that you asked about”.
As far as the team is concerned, the rest of the offense didn’t really notice a difference in terms of what plays were run. Tight end Pat Freiermuth said as much on Monday after the game, via the team’s website: “I think the plays were the same”, he said, verbatim.
Guard James Daniels said the same thing on Sunday evening after the game. “We were running the same plays, I just thought we were executing them better”, he told reporters, via the team’s website. Diontae Johnson also implied as much.
After all, it was Pickett himself who after the game told reporters that he told the coaches he wanted them to just run the offense as it was because he didn’t want to limit them in any way. The play-calling was the same, roughly, as when Trubisky was in.
Of course, that’s in terms of an in-game adjustment. Moving forward, the game plan will be made in conjunction with what Pickett wants to run, what is working for him during practices, with plays picked from a menu that he is comfortable running.
In other words, he as much as anybody will dictate, over time, what the difference is in the Kenny Pickett offense from the Mitch Trubisky offense. We don’t know what that is yet. He doesn’t even know yet. It will be revealed to us over time, and then suddenly, that will be their elusive ‘identity’. Which won’t make much of a difference if it doesn’t start identifying some Ws.