Projected Steelers Starter ‘Could Be Replaced,’ Says Analyst

Mike Tomlin

Getty The Steelers could bench Mitch Trubisky for rookie QB Kenny Pickett.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could look to replace one of their quarterbacks.

According to Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, projected starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky could be “replaced” during the regular season. Ballentine points towards the idea that it makes sense to start out the 2022 season with the veteran Trubisky as the starter — but eventually turn to first-round rookie Kenny Pickett before the end of the year.

“Heading into the first preseason game, head coach Mike Tomlin told CBS Sports that Mitchell Trubisky would start if the Steelers had to play a meaningful game right now,” says Ballentine. “The veteran coach pointed to Trubisky’s statistics, resume and experience advantage over the others. But perhaps the most telling part of Tomlin’s answer to the question was the end. The coach said that it’s ‘appropriate to start there,’ referring to Trubisky’s advantages.”

Why Pickett Could Leap Trubisky

The 28-year-old Trubisky is currently listed first on the depth chart, with fellow veteran Mason Rudolph as the No. 2 QB and Pickett as the third-string QB. However, that depth chart ranking could soon change following Pickett’s impressive preseason debut.

The University of Pittsburgh product not only threw the game-winning touchdown pass during the 32-25 win over the Seattle Seahawks, he went 13-of-15 for 95 yards, two touchdowns and a game-high 132.6 quarterback rating. To many observers, Pickett had the most impressive debut game of any rookie.

“Pickett finished 13 of 15 for 95 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions (132.6 rating) for the Steelers, playing the entire second half behind Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph,” said Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports. “Trubisky is the favorite to start Week 1, but Pickett is playing his way into the conversation.”

Trubisky is the safe option at the moment due to his experience. The former No. 2 overall draft pick has started 50 games during his career and led the Chicago Bears to two playoff appearances during his four seasons as a starter.

However, he has a very limited ceiling. According to Pro Football Focus, Trubisky never posted higher than a 66.4 offensive grade as a starter and the highest he’s ranked among quarterbacks is 28th in offensive grade (with at least 100 dropbacks).

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Steelers Entering Season With Playoff-Ready Roster

As noted by Ballentine, if Trubisky doesn’t cement himself as the clear-cut starter early in the season, Pittsburgh could turn to Pickett rather quickly. It’s worth noting the Steelers are coming off of a playoff appearance and haven’t suffered through a losing season since 2003. In other words, there won’t be much patience for Trubisky — especially considering the Steelers have a solid supporting cast in place.

“Outside of Trubisky’s second season in which he actually finished third behind Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes in QBR, he’s never finished higher than 21st as a starter,” said Ballentine. “Getting a fresh start in Pittsburgh could rejuvenate his career. If it doesn’t and the Steelers suffer, there’s a good chance we are going to see Pickett before the year is over.”

With Rudolph linked to a possible trade involving the Detroit Lions, it may only be a matter of time before Pickett is named the starter.

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