Mitch Trubisky will be the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers when the team takes on the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on Sunday Sept. 11. But if you ask legendary Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw — a four-time Super Bowl winner and Pro Football Hall of Famer — head coach Mike Tomlin should have made a different choice.
Appearing on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Friday Sept. 9, 2022, the 74-year-old Fox Sports NFL Analyst said he would have made rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett the Week 1 starter.
Terry Bradshaw: Mike Tomlin is Honoring the ‘Commitment’ Made to Mitch Trubisky
“I understand what Mike’s doing. They signed Trubisky to be their starter,” he began, “and I think Mike is honoring their commitment to bring him in, knowing that the real starter is the kid,” he added, referring to Pickett.
It’s a commitment that was relatively easy to honor as Trubisky — the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft — “didn’t do anything to lose the job” in training camp and the preseason, even if “there’s not much going on in preseason,” as Bradshaw put it.
“I would have started the kid and I wouldn’t have had to make any excuses for it,” he added. “He’s exciting, the players love him, the fans love him and he’s 24 years old and started 54 games in college (actually 49, with 52 total appearances). He’s so ready to play that I would have started him.”
Except it’s possible that Pickett isn’t as ready to play as it might appear. To be sure, he had a standout preseason in which he completed 29 of 36 passes for 261 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions (124.7 passer rating).
But all of his action came against second- and third-teamers, as opposed to the first-team defenses he’ll see in the regular-season. He’ll also have to play behind a below-average offensive line, one that will feature at least two new starters and needs time to jell.
That matters not to Bradshaw, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft but was benched on a number of occasions during his early years in the league, before he finally established himself as the unquestioned starter and won four Super Bowls.
Bradshaw: ‘I’ve Already Seen’ Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph
“I will say this,” he added. “I would have started Pickett because I’ve already seen the other guys. I know they can play well one week or two weeks and then we’re going to see the other side,” referring to the past inconsistencies in the play of Trubisky and third-string QB Mason Rudolph, the former of whom signed a two-year contract with the Steelers in March.
Meanwhile, Bradshaw also took time to reflect on his career with the Steelers, which spanned from 1970 until an elbow injury ended his career in 1983.
“My DNA, I was too impatient. I didn’t like short passes, they were boring (and) we didn’t throw that often so therefore I wanted to make the most of it,” he said, while also noting that he didn’t have to deal with the offensive line turnover that NFL quarterbacks have to deal with today.
“Mine was always the same,” he said of his offensive line, before highlighting Hall of Fame center Mike Webster, as well as Jon Kolb, Larry Brown, Gerry Mullins and Sam Davis.
On Sunday, Trubisky will be playing behind a line that features returning tackles Dan Moore Jr. and Chuks Okorafor. Then there’s newcomers Mason Cole and James Daniels, who will be starting at center and right guard, respectively, while third-year man Kevin Dotson starts at left guard.