Steelers QB Puts Coaching Staff on Blast as Finger-Pointing Continues

Steelers coaches Danny Smith and Mike Tomlin

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers special teams coach Danny Smith (left) with head coach Mike Tomlin.

After the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 35-13 blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on October 30, Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the preparation level of his teammates.

“We need to study more. I don’t think we study enough as a group. There’s way too many penalties and stuff like that that we can control,” Pickett told reporters.

Two days later, former starter — and current backup — Mitch Trubisky echoed those thoughts, but also called out the coaching staff for a lack of emphasis on fundamentals and for not holding players accountable.

QB Mitch Trubisky: The Steelers Need to ‘Practice Harder’

“You are seeing the same thing when I was in there,” said Trubisky, via Jeff Hathhorn of 93.7 The Fan. “We got to get back to the fundamentals, eliminating penalties. Everybody being on the same page, 11 guys playing as one. Find ways to score and get some points.”

Trubisky said the team needs to be better in practice — and in walk-throughs.

“We have to practice harder. We got to be more detailed. We have to be locked into the walk-throughs,” he said. “We got to really get back to the fundamentals of the game — blocking, catching, running, throwing. Once we are good fundamentally, we can continue to expand.”

Also: Steelers Coaches Need to Hold Players ‘More Accountable’

As to penalties — and in particular those that result from mental errors — Trubisky said the coaching staff has to do a better job of taking players to task for these mistakes.

“Some of [the penalties] are just one-offs, freak accidents,” Trubisky said. “Some other times they are repeat offenders. That’s got to come from the top down. The coaches got to hold these guys more accountable when it comes to penalties,” he said, before elaborating on the issue.

“I don’t mind the holding penalty, but when we are lined up in illegal formations, I think that’s detail and stuff we have to go over in walk-throughs and have more sense of urgency. We got to be fundamentally more stable. We got to be better in every aspect. It hasn’t been good enough,” he said.

Steelers RB Najee Harris: ‘We Lack Accountability’

The team’s top two quarterbacks aren’t the only team leaders who have highlighted a lack of accountability.

After the loss to the Eagles, running back Najee Harris — who, like Trubisky, is a team captain — also used that word when talking about areas in which the team is lacking:

“We’ve gotta keep our head up. It’s rough right now. We lack a lot of stuff. We lack a lot of experience. We lack a lot of discipline, accountability. We lack a lot,” he said.

But at the same time, Harris has left himself open to criticism concerning accountability. After he was the team’s third-leading rusher against the Eagles with just 32 yards, he said, “I can’t make a hole. I can’t do everything. I try to control what I can control. I don’t know what more I can do other than to vocalize it.”

Contrast this with the words of left cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who — in his first game back from a hamstring injury — allowed six first-half completions for 83 yards and two touchdowns to Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown. That led to him being benched at halftime in favor of backup James Pierre.

But he didn’t make excuses after the game.

“I felt great [physically]. Very excited to play. Healthy, no excuses. I didn’t make the plays I needed to,” he said, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Witherspoon is in the midst of his second season with the Steelers, having been acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks in September 2021. He re-upped with the team on a two-year, $8 million contract in March 2022.

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