Back in January, a Steelers era defined by consistent playoff contention and an overall winning culture, came to an end. Franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger officialy decided to hang up the cleats. Big Ben’s retirement was anticipated in the league, as his performance began to drop off in his older age. Granted, he could still have freak games in which he’d throw for 500+ yards (see Wild Card Round 2021). Unfortunately, his inconsistency began to show he didn’t have much left in the tank. The Steelers weren’t unprepared for this. Just two months later they signed Mitch Trubisky, who was most recently Buffalo’s backup, to take the reins. It was clear Steelers weren’t interested in offering up much capital to get their franchise guy like so many other teams this offseason. Although, is Mitch Trubisky the guy that can bring enough stability to a team clearly in a transitional phase?
Keeping Pickett on the bench
Mitch Trubisky was clearly a candidate the Steelers felt they could trust with leading the team, at least, for a season. There’s a reason he only got a two year deal. And there’s a reason they spent their first pick of the 2022 Draft on Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett. In fact, Pickett was the first QB taken in the entire draft. The Steelers wanted this guy. It’s not much of a mystery that the team has Pickett in mind when they think future of the franchise. However, there isn’t much of a rush to make Pickett their starter. In order for Trubisky to secure his starting spot he needs to make sure the Steelers aren’t tempted to start Pickett before he’s ready. That means consistently good play, and to Pittsburgh, that means winning.
Playoffs or bust
The Steelers will likely have their work cut out for them this season. The unlikely Bengals are coming off a Superbowl appearance. Baltimore may actually be able to field a team not riddled with injuries. The Browns have an exciting roster ready to compete, that is if Watson isn’t suspended indefinitely. It’s not going to be an easy ride for Trubisky. However, the Steelers do still boast one of the most dominant defenses in the league. Trubisky doesn’t have to put the team on his back to get them to the postseason. They can rely on players like Cam Heyward and 2021 DPOY T.J. Watt to do the heavy lifting (Even if he was shorted in his Madden 23 ranking).
All Trubisky needs to do is use the weapons the Steelers already provided, namely their rising-star running back Najee Harris. Currently, Vegas has Pittsburgh at O/U 7.5 wins. In the AFC North eight wins is not gonna cut it. Realistically, Trubisky will have to lead the Steelers to at least ten wins to even contend with the rest of the competitive AFC.
For Tomlin’s entire 14-year tenure in Pittsburgh, he has not once had a losing season. Steelers fans will not accept a losing season as anything but a failure. Even if there are glaring flaws with the rest of the team it will be Trubisky on the hot seat. If the team sees a losing trend, even mid-way through the season, it may be enough to force Pickett onto field whether he’s ready or not. If Trubisky wants to be the main guy in Pittsburgh this season, it’ll take a playoff run.
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