Experience, mobility and decision-making are traits that led the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign Mitch Trubisky in free agency in March.
Those are the reasons coach Mike Tomlin will go with Trubisky as the Steelers’ starting quarterback when the season kicks off Sunday in Cincinnati.
Tomlin confirmed on Tuesday what was virtually known since the start of off-season training and was revealed on his updated depth chart. Trubisky will get the first chance to replace retired Ben Roethlisberger under center.
“We’re really comfortable with what Mitch showed us,” Tomlin said during his weekly press conference. “He’s a guy who came to us with franchise quarterback experience, if you will. He is comfortable in these shoes. He was once the focal point of the football team. He’s managed to do it before.
The Chicago Bears’ No. 2 pick in 2017, Trubisky went 29-21 in 50 starts over four seasons, was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2018 season and started a pair of playoff games.
“These things appealed to us,” Tomlin said. “His athleticism and mobility appealed to us. He took care of the football in the stadium. All of our quarterbacks did, and I would be remiss if I didn’t say so.
Updated #Steels Depth chart for week 1 at CIN. HC Mike Tomlin will address this release as well as other depth chart positions (previously announced) during his press conference at noon today. It will be broadcast live on https://t.co/w2jW1ahowX & on all the team’s platforms. pic.twitter.com/9JKzgjYZJ7
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) September 6, 2022
The line of Trubisky, rookie Kenny Pickett and veteran backup Mason Rudolph performed well during the preseason. Pickett’s development has accelerated to the point where he will be the No. 2 quarterback to start the season, with Rudolph serving as the No. 3 passer.
In a depth chart released on Monday, Rudolph was listed in second place. The Steelers released an updated version Tuesday that ranked Pickett second.
Tomlin said a “clerical error” was the reason for the incorrect information released on Monday.
All three quarterbacks led scoring drives during a two-minute drill, and none threw an interception.
• Trubisky: 24-34 (70.6%), 283 yards, 2 TDs, 115.2 passer rating
• Pickett: 29-36 (80.6%), 261 yards, 3 TDs, 124.6 passer rating
• Rudolph: 26-39 (66.7%), 220 yards, 2 TDs, 98.2 passer rating
“It’s good to make a decision based on what people do rather than what people don’t do,” Tomlin said. “I thought our three quarterbacks represented themselves very well and represented us very well in the preseason.”
Pickett led the second-team offense in the second and third preseason games.
“I thought his development acceleration took off once we got into the stadiums,” Tomlin said. “His decision-making, his fluidity, his competitive spirit, his extreme precision – all of those things really came to the fore once we started entering the stadiums.
“I thought it was growing and growing at a very rapid rate once we entered the stadiums. I think it’s reasonable that this growth will continue as we move through the regular season. We’re delighted to know where he is at this point and the ground he has covered and the ground he will cover as we find our regular season rhythm.
As for Rudolph, he was the presumptive starter entering the offseason but will open the season third on the depth chart for the first time since his rookie season in 2018.
“I have so much respect for Mason Rudolph and his approach to this competition and his performances,” Tomlin said. “He didn’t bat an eyelid, he didn’t blink, he didn’t pout about the reps or the groups he was running in. He just made plays and he helped whoever he was. ‘surrounded to improve and improve.”
Trubisky maintained the QB1 position throughout training camp and started all three of the team’s preseason games. Rudolph was listed on the second team in early August when the preseason depth chart was released, and Pickett was tab QB3.
Rudolph and Pickett rotated with the second and third teams for much of training camp. Rudolph was QB2 in the first preseason game, while Pickett was the second quarterback to play in the next two preseason games.