Ever since Mike Tomlin became the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach in 2007, he had future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center. That type of leadership and play at the game’s most vital position were the driving forces behind Tomlin’s NFL-record 15 straight winning seasons to begin an NFL coaching career.
Following the 2021 season, Big Ben called it a career and for all intents and purposes left the Steelers scrambling to find stability under center again. The unfortunate death of former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins in April left former Bears and Bills quarterback Mitch Trubisky and veteran Steeler Mason Rudolph, not exactly two great options. In April the team used their first-round pick on former Pitt Panthers star Kenny Pickett.
Coming into the season, Tomlin decided that Trubisky, the much-maligned 2017 No. 2 overall pick out of UNC, would start. He was awful, and the Steelers stumbled to a 1-3 record. Trubisky was benched in favor of Pickett in last week’s home loss to the Jets.
Fast-forward to Sunday, and Tomlin seemingly has given his rookie the keys, starting him against Super Bowl favorite Buffalo. Pickett wasn’t great but the real blow was Tomlin having to go against another steadily rising signal-caller in Josh Allen shred his defense for over 350 yards passing and four touchdown passes by halftime, including a 98-yarder to wide receiver Gabe Davis. Following the 38-3 shellacking, Tomlin seemed open to trying anything to give his team a jolt. Maybe even replacing starting defensive players.
98 YARDS! 🤯
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) October 9, 2022
“Absolutely, man. You play like we played today. You got to be open to do whatever is required to change the outcome of these games, so that’s a given. I don’t think anyone is going to be surprised by our willingness to turn over whatever stone to change the outcome of games like what transpired today. That’s just appropriate.”
The Steelers defense allowed 552 yards to the Bills, and if not for the Bills taking their foot off the gas it could’ve been much worse. Losing reigning DPOY T.J. Watt after week 1 hasn’t helped matters at all.
GABE DAVIS ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
— NFL (@NFL) October 9, 2022
Steelers Offense Didn’t Help: Pickett Hasn’t Been A Spark
While the defense was putrid, they got no support from a dormant offense that mustered just three points the entire afternoon. And don’t look at Pickett’s over 300-yard passing day, the bulk of that came in garbage time, as the Steelers were behind big all day.
The offensive line hasn’t opened up holes for star running back Najee Harris all season. The wide receivers have had the dropsies, and the team hasn’t figured out how to use rising tight end Pat Freiermuth. This all falls on embattled offensive coordinator Matt Canada, whose scheme doesn’t seem to fit the talented personnel he’s been given. You’d have to believe if Tomlin is considering wholesale changes, that Canada’s name is at the top of the list. His college-based RPO-heavy scheme hasn’t played out at the NFL level. Fans have been calling for Tomlin to replace him for the longest, and now may be the time you see it happen.
Tomlin Rallied Steelers Last Season: Not Looking Too Promising This Time Around
Following an uncharacteristic 1-3 start in 2021, Tomlin rallied the troops to finish 9-7-1 and secure the final AFC playoff spot. But that was with Roethlisberger and the healthy game-wrecking Watt leading the defense, two critical veteran pieces.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 9, 2022
Tomlin may be relegated to sacrificing his first losing season in order to develop his rookie QB and prepping him to lead the team from the jump in 2023.
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