PITTSBURGH – Mike Tomlin confirmed Saturday that Kenny Pickett will have a shot to win the starting quarterback job in 2022 – something many assumed when the Steelers drafted Pickett with the 20th overall pick in the draft.
One of the NFL’s age-old cliches is that iron sharpens iron. Or, competition brings out the best in everyone.
Even though it’s a cliche, it’s a very real cliche. It’s an effective one, as well. NFL teams are always looking for a competitive edge and ways to improve their rosters. And oftentimes, it involves bringing in players to push other players on said rosters.
There’s another old NFL cliche that’s also very applicable: If you two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.
And as of right now, it looks as if the Steelers have three quarterbacks heading into the season.
There’s one NFL analyst who sees this as concerning. NFL Network‘s Brian Baldinger appeared on the network’s daily show, Total Access, and voiced his concern about the Steelers’ upcoming quarterback battle.
“The one concern I have after listening to Mike Tomlin is, you know, he’s [Pickett] in the running, here, to compete with Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph to be the starter,” Baldinger said on Total Access. “Which I think is great, but it’s difficult to do. It’s just difficult to have a quarterback competition with three players in today’s world.
“There’s just not enough reps to go around. There’s not enough preseason games. So, I’m kinda curious to see how [offensive coordinator] Matt Canada [and] Mike Tomlin really conduct this to make sure they get the best player ready for Week 1.”
Will the Steelers’ quarterback competition hold the players back?
Baldinger makes a valid point. The NFL doesn’t hold as near as many offseason workouts as it once did and training camps are much shorter. The league also removed one preseason game from its schedule last year. That fourth preseason game was essentially a dress rehearsal for the bottom-end of the roster and offered a valuable chance for the last 3-4 guys on the bubble to prove their worth.
How Tomlin and Canada split the reps will be key in determining which quarterback can handle the starting gig. But they have to make sure they do it in a fashion that doesn’t limit growth and development. What makes this even more interesting is the Steelers haven’t had to do anything like this in nearly two decades. We don’t know how they’re going to approach it.
Should they go ahead and give Pickett reps? They never promised Trubisky the starting gig, so they wouldn’t be crossing him or anything like that. Will Trubisky get the majority of reps. Where does Rudolph fit in and what if he gets out to an early lead over the two? Do the Steelers go with him knowing he’ll likely regress back to the mean?
The good news is that Tomlin and Canada have plenty of time to figure it out. OTAs don’t begin until May 24, which a little more than three weeks away. Both coaches will also have a chance to see Pickett in action when the team holds its rookie minicamp on May 13-15.
Tomlin and Canada both know what they’re doing, so it’s logical to think that they’ll figure it out. However, Baldinger is right, at the end of the day. Whatever they have planned, they have to make sure they distribute the practice reps accordingly and efficiently. Every single day on the practice field needs to be taken into account.
If they can do that, then it’s safe to assume the Steelers will put the best guy under center in 2022.
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