The Steelers have failed to adjust to the quarterback
The modern NFL game has seemingly passed by Tomlin and the Steelers. While he had early success in a more defensive-minded world, the game has become quicker and higher-scoring in recent years. While a slight change of pace, this certainly isn’t a unique problem. Teams with the top offenses and best quarterbacks were always the true competitors in the NFL.
Tomlin had that when Roethlisberger was in his prime, but this team still fell short. As that era faded, this team switched its focus to a conservative mindset. The coaches being brought in were all “safe” options, including Canada as offensive coordinator.
In order to become a top team and consistently win, you need to take risks. If you don’t, your team will fall by the wayside. The Chiefs and Bills traded up to land their top quarterbacks, risking future drafts for the chance to get their guy. They took players with elite traits even if they needed refinement as players. They both panned out and now both of their teams are among the elite in the NFL.
What’s funny is that both teams squared away a position that had been in question for a long time. The Bills were coming off the disaster that was EJ Manuel for them. They swung and missed, but that didn’t deter them from taking another shot at a quarterback even after Tyrod Taylor found some footing as a starter.
The Chiefs had solely gone the free-agent route before landing Mahomes. From Matt Cassel to Alex Smith, the Chiefs were regulars in the playoffs but lacked the elite play from the position. Mahomes has certainly given them that.
The Steelers drafted a “safer” quarterback with the hope of being competitors again sooner. That hasn’t even transpired, but if it had, what would the upside of been? Most viewed Pickett with the ceiling of a low-end starter. The league is full of those, and while they can win, they rarely lead to sustained success.
Andy Dalton developed into a long-term starter for the Bengals, but once he was paid the team couldn’t keep elite talent around him. Derek Carr was a similar story. The main difference is that each of those players had good showings early on.
It is unclear what the Steelers will do at the position moving forward but opting to go the safe route has seemingly bit them in the butt. If not, this team will likely continue to meddle in mediocrity.