Last season Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin became the first coach in NFL history to have 15 consecutive non-losing seasons (2007-2021) to begin his career.
While Tomlin has accomplished that feat, it was all done with future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger under center. That’s no more, as the only starting QB Tomlin has ever had to begin a season retired after an 18-year career. Now Tomlin is thrust into the position of trying to make it work with three guys who, reports say, he doesn’t seem too enthused about as we head into the season.
Those three are former Bears and Bills quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Steelers mainstay Mason Rudolph and 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett. ESPN reporters reported from camp that neither QB has distinguished himself as the clear-cut starter. Tomlin hasn’t let it be known if he’s worried about the position heading into the season, but a substantial drop-off in play at the position is expected in 2022.
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) August 4, 2022
Tomlin Says He’s Excited But Uncomfortable About Team’s QB Situation
During a recent appearance on “The Pivot Podcast,” Tomlin talked about the position and how he’s approaching it without Ben.
“I just view the challenges of what lies ahead in that way,” Tomlin said. “First of all, I’m looking forward to the anxiety associated with the uncertainty. To have to stand and deliver, live out what we believe in — the standard is the standard. It’s like McDonald’s. You know what a No. 1 is. It doesn’t matter what corner of the globe, a No. 1 is a No. 1, and that’s what I want Pittsburgh Steelers football to be. So it doesn’t matter who puts their hands underneath the center, as far as I’m concerned. But, with all that cool stuff being said, it’s scary. But exciting.
“Yeah, we might not have the same type of quarterback play we’ve had, we might not have the special talent we’ve had, but we’ve got capable dudes.”
Tomlin sounds like someone who doesn’t know what to expect but is hoping to overachieve, as he’s been doing his entire life. His comments reek of uncertainty, and that’s uncharted territory for the Steelers. Without Big Ben under center, Tomlin also knows he’s got to be the “voice of reason.” The cool, calm and collected leader he’s been for 15 seasons as he’s stalked the sidelines in Pittsburgh.
Tomlin Has Highest Expectations For Pickett
With Trubisky and Rudolph already proven that they’re average at best in their careers, Tomlin has the highest of hopes for the team’s 2022 first-round pick, Kenny Pickett. Tomlin recently talked about Pickett and the expectations the franchise has for him.
Tomlin mentioned the former Pitt product has a chance to start in Week 1, which should tell you everything you need to know about retreads Trubisky and Rudolph. Pickett has more upside, and Tomlin wants to see if it manifests sooner than later.
“Playmaking … We expect quality playmaking and a quick maturation process, and we like the things he had done thus far,” Tomlin told Steelers.com.
The Steelers released their first depth chart over the weekend, and to no one’s surprise Trubisky was first, Rudolph second and Pickett third. But from the sounds of things being spewed by Tomlin, the expectancy is that won’t last long.
So while Tomlin seems unenthused by his current choices at QB so far, Pickett is that one ray of sunshine and hope that replacing Big Ben will take months, not years.
We shall see, because the play of that position will go a long way in determining if Tomlin can continue his record streak of consecutive non-losing seasons.