Kenny Pickett left the Ravens game Sunday with his 2nd concussion this season. Leaving the Steelers to answer questions about their quarterback position.
As of Tuesday morning, Mike Tomlin’s official position was that if Kenny Pickett couldn’t start on Sunday, he would wait and make his decision day-by-day on who he would start against the Panthers on Sunday. Just what the Steelers need at this juncture of their season indecisive coaching. Not that the Steelers quandary is easy to answer, yet Tomlin hasn’t a clue how to proceed.
Steelers should rest Kenny Pickett
The first thing out of Tomlin’s mouth should have been that Pickett would not start the remainder of the season. Why? Not because he should be demoted but for his protection. Sure the Jury is still out on Pickett as a franchise quarterback; like it or not, he is still the franchise’s future until someone else comes along.
Currently, the Steelers are 5-8 on the year and highly unlikely to miss the playoffs. Why subject Pickett to more injury when it’s obvious the Steelers will finish with a losing season?
Even if you are not a Pickett fan, he has grown as the year has progressed and has gotten better game by game. The prevailing thought is to let him heal and have time to recover, let him regroup, and see what he can do in September as the starter.
If we have learned anything, traumatic brain injuries are nothing to take lightly. Back-to-back concussions forced Merrill Hoge into retirement and other players. Rushing back onto the field puts him at risk for CTE later on. Why risk his health in meaningless games going down the stretch? The steelers should do the smart thing and keep Pickett on the bench for the remainder of the season.
Steelers should bench Mitch Trubisky
Mitch Trubisky now shares a record with Pickett and probably a team record in that it’s the first time two quarterbacks in the same season came off the bench and had three interceptions in a season. He had one good drive that culminated in a Steelers touchdown. Then his second drive went well with good play from Najee Harris; he tried to force the ball to Pat Freiermuth on a poor read and cost the Steelers perhaps three points.
In the 2nd half, he threw another interception while in field goal range, and the third was a deep route to Dionte Johnson that Trubisky should never have thrown. There was not much to like about his performance, as his interception cost the Steelers two drives in which they could have walked away with crucial points in a close game.
Steelers should start Mason Rudolph
After the dreadful performance by Trubisky, Tomlin without hesitation should have said that Rudolph should be the starter against the Panthers. For starters, he hasn’t played all year and he comes in healthy. Secondly, at least we know what we have in Mason, he is not great, yet he could have still played somewhat better than Trubisky. Perhaps he does throw an interception it’s doubtful he would have thrown three. The likely scenario is that the Steelers could have scored some points on drives where Trubisky threw interceptions.
Plus, here is where Tomlin sounds hypocritical. When Gunner Olsewski had fumbling problems earlier in the year, Tomlin went after him; putting the ball on the ground is unacceptable. Tomlin then promptly replaced him with Steve Sims. So, if Tomlin feels that strongly about fumbles, how is throwing three interceptions any less problematic than Gunner fumbling the football? It shouldn’t be. Tomlin should not have hesitated and promptly listed Mason Rudolph as the starter headed into the Panthers matchup this week.
Tomlin is showing his weakness as a head coach. Yeah, sure, he won when he had talent; now that the talent is gone, he is making questionable decisions to the team’s detriment and putting the franchise’s future at risk by risking the health of his number-one draft choice by having him play in meaningless games.
When it’s all said and done, the Steelers, hence Tomlin, could be left in a bad position if left to his own devices. They may need to draft another quarterback in 2023 out of necessity rather than choice. Sure there are those of you who are still enamored and enchanted by Tomlin’s non-losing game streak. However, this season is beginning to show that streak may have been more luck than skill, especially if Tom makes bad decisions in their current quarterback situation.