For the first time in nearly two decades, the main storyline of the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason is life without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And with that goes the usual expectations of Pittsburgh contending for the AFC North crown. Now, no one knows what to think.
To that, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says three simple words: “Bring it on.”
Like many have been since Roethlisberger retired, King questioned the Steelers’ ability to keep winning minus a franchise quarterback.
“You’re hoping that we’re mediocre?'” a seething Tomlin asked King.
While King wisely answered no, the 2022 NFL season is one of uncertainty for the usually certain Steelers.
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QB Battle Approach
Mike Tomlin knows having the right approach to the quarterback situation is critical. Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch shared with Peter King how he believed it was unfolding behind the scenes.
“I think Mike will be totally honest in the team meetings,” Batch told King. “He’ll tell the team: ‘We have a quarterback battle here. Everyone will get a chance, and the film will speak for itself. Three dogs, one bone. Let’s see what these guys can do. Let’s see who wins the job.’”
Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Pickett are all going at it for the starting role — though it’s appeared all offseason that it’s Trubisky’s to lose.
“That’s very accurate,” Tomlin said when King relayed Batch’s theory. “I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room. Our ability to put together a winning formula that allows us to go into stadiums and step out with victory is what it’s about. We’re going through a transition at that position, so our formula is going to change to a degree. Our strengths may change, what we lean on, what we work to minimize. That’s just team building. It requires discussion and direction.”
“I don’t run from that. I run to that.”
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Mike Tomlin’s First Losing Season?
Mike Tomlin could be running to his first losing season. The .500-plus streak that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been on actually started with Bill Cowher. You have to go all the way back to 2003 for the team’s last losing season — an ugly 6-10. Still, they finished third in the division with the Cleveland Browns at 5-11.
Although some of us are tired of hearing it (especially the Mike Tomlin doubters), never a losing season in 15 is quite remarkable. Even the legendary Bill Belichick, who some argue is the GOAT head coach, had five losing seasons in his first 15.
But that was with future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. No one quite knows what the Steelers are getting at the position. It’s early — 35 days until kickoff at the Super Bowl Bengals. A lot can happen between now and then, but a lot can also not happen. It could turn out that at the end of the preseason, Pittsburgh holds its breath and hopes for the best with the most critical position on the team.