Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart joined the PM Team W/Poni & Mueller on Thursday to discuss the black and gold. Andrew Fillipponi did not hesitate to ask Stewart to grade the performance of the current Steelers quarterback, Mitch Trubisky. The former quarterback turned commentator may have surprised the cohost with his answer.
“I didn’t expect much, honestly. You gotta remember the preseason has been shortened,” Stewart said. “How many real reps did the first team get together. Only a few teams played good football, even the Bills had two turnovers. Not saying he didn’t do a good job, but you could tell it was making it happen as we go.”
With the exception of the final preseason game against the Detroit Lions when he played the entire half, Trubisky didn’t get much game action in the preseason. It is common for teams not to play starters for extended minutes and the Steelers were taking a long look at their heralded first-round rookie draft pick, Kenny Pickett. The Steelers offense was already considered, at best, a work in progress so the initial struggles were not completely unexpected.
“He didn’t turn the ball over,” Stewart continued. “When you are a quarterback where there is a is a lot of question marks around you, that gives the coaching the opportunity to really coach the player. Not understanding what not to do, but what maybe to do a little quicker, pre snap reads. He did an adequate job, enough to say he is still the starting quarterback for this team. It takes every bit of the fourth, fifth, sixth game for Steelers football to come together.”
Stewart had a meteoric career in Pittsburgh. He burst onto the scene as “Slash”, a part-time wide receiver and quarterbacked the team to two AFC championship games. He was also benched multiple times for the likes of Kent Graham, Mike Tomczak and Tommy Maddox. If anyone is familiar with the mercurial nature of Steeler Nation’s relationships with quarterbacks, it is the former Pro Bowler. The ex-quarterback for the black and gold was asked by Chris Mueller, the cohost of the 93.7 The Fan show, what it was like being a quarterback when you have a good defense and not asked to turn the ball over. Mueller asked him directly “is it tough to play in that situation?”
“I don’t think Coach Tomlin or any of the coaches are saying don’t turn the ball over,” Stewart said. “It is more of a situation of be smart with the football. Whatever we can get, we will take it. We are not trying to build Mount Rushmore in a quarter.”
Steelers Forgotten Games: Quarterback Kordell Stewart Leads Stunning 4th Quarter Comeback At Foxboro
Many Pittsburgh fans have forgotten that prior to the last decade of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, he was clearly in command of how the offense would approach games. Pittsburgh took the air out of the ball, played great defense and routinely was very conservative in the passing game. That formula often frustrated quarterbacks all the way back to Terry Bradshaw but the Steelers have finished with a losing record only nine times in the Super Bowl Era. Fillipponi interrupted his answer by jumping in and asking excitedly if it was frustrating for a quarterback to play like that and if he’d want them to say, ‘cut it loose.’
“No, you just lost T.J. Watt, Najee Harris didn’t have a great game. You don’t want to put yourself in a pickle and say go out and sling it around,” Stewart said. “The Steelers never were really that type of team. Ben may have adlibbed over time, holistically that is not who the Steelers have ever been. Even with Neil O’Donnell it didn’t happen.”
The Pittsburgh offense will get a different kind of test this week against one of the finest defensive minds in NFL history, Bill Belichick. Mike Tomlin hasn’t enjoyed great success against the New England Patriots, and in many of the seven losses, the black and gold fell behind early to Tom Brady and were hopelessly out of the game by halftime. This week’s matchup will be the first in this century not to feature Brady or Roethlisberger, which is astounding.
These are different teams, but the Steelers do have an edge on paper with superior offensive playmakers. The defense will play without Watt for the first time in 2022 and playing clean football, even if it is less exciting, will help that group find themselves. Pittsburgh has gone back to the future with a conservative offense, good defense and special teams. Mitch Trubisky isn’t going to be pretty but he just might be effective, and that should win a lot of games.
What do you think Steeler Nation? Are you okay with a conservative offense that results in wins? Comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.