Mike Tomlin has been under fire this season. The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had a losing season in 15 years under Tomlin’s leadership, but after falling to 1-2 on the season following a 29-17 Thursday night loss to Cleveland, it’s obvious that the problem lies in the starting quarterback position.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s 207 yards passing with no TD passes showed the football world everything it needs to know about the limited potential of the offense with Mitch at the controls.
The frustration out of Pittsburgh and around the NFL has been compounded because Tomlin stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that Trubisky is not the right choice. Maybe he understands that the offensive line is a problem and doesn’t want to put the people’s choice, rookie Kenny Pickett, in a compromising position.
Whatever the reason, it’s gotten so noisy that even OJ Simpson has an opinion on what Tomlin should do at quarterback.
According to The Spun, the former NFL star running back believes that the Steelers need to switch things up at quarterback.
“I don’t see these guys being inspired by their quarterback play,” Simpson said. “I don’t know what Kenny Pickett is able to do, but I’m willing to bet anybody that he’ll score more than four touchdowns in the next three games.”
“[The] problem is Pittsburgh isn’t going to win any 14-10 games. They’re gonna have to score points to win, and I just don’t see that happening with Trubisky.”
Juice wasn’t breaking news here. His desire to see another option at the helm of the Pittsburgh offense shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following the Steelers situation at signal-caller since the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.
Talking heads, including former Steelers players like ESPN commentator Ryan Clark, were highly critical of the how the Steelers handled their quarterback situation post-Big Ben. As far as the respect of the league’s current players, Trubisky doesn’t seem to have that either.
Even after winning a Week 2 game (24-17) against the Seattle Seahawks, Trubisky didn’t leave much of an impression on the opposing defense.
“He was OK. Nothing special,” Seahawks defensive end Fred Clark said of the 2017 second overall pick, per Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly. “I feel like he was OK. [He’s an] average quarterback.”
The Steelers remained in the news during the offseason, as everyone knew the franchise would select a quarterback in the draft’s first round.
Reports were constantly surfacing about Tomlin’s interest in Tennessee Titans rookie Malik Willis, but hometown product Pickett, who attended the University of Pittsburgh, ended up being the “politically correct” choice. Some talking heads immediately criticized the selection.
Prior to Pickett’s arrival, Steelers Nation was reportedly warming up to the idea of Trubisky leading the team, being that the other option was unsensational backup Mason Rudolph.
Stephen A. Smith was one of those fans.
“I’ve gotten over the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers got Mitchell Trubisky. I’m trying to recover from that. We all know I’m a Steelers fan. We know I’m no fan of Trubisky’s. He just doesn’t move me. And it’s hard. Well, I will say this. He’s 29-21 as a starter. And he did take a team coached by Matt Nagy to two playoff appearances. So we can’t ignore that. He’s definitely better. He’s definitely than Mason Rudolph.”
The grumblings got worse when Cleveland signed talented but controversial signal-caller Deshuan Watson. Remember when ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper described the mindset of Steelers fans prior to the 2022 NFL draft?
“Deshaun Watson becomes a Cleveland Brown, are you kidding me?” Kiper said. “‘And we’re sitting there with Mitchell Trubisky?’”
Pickett Impresses Immediately
Pickett performed well in the preseason and immediately became a fan favorite. When the Steelers signed Trubisky, few thought he would be able to lead the Steelers to a winning season. Trubisky is a solid stop gap, but if you have aspirations of actually competing in a loaded AFC Conference, then having a game manager with minimal playmaking ability lead your potentially dynamic offense is a recipe for disaster.
Tomlin was forewarned way before OJ gave his analysis. The Super Bowl-winning head coach doesn’t want to succumb to the whim of the fans. He’s explained that the Steelers have a system and a business model and he won’t waver from it, but even OJ finds it troublesome enough to let Money Mike know that a change needs to be made before the season is lost.
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