There has been a lot of talk in the mainstream media of late regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers. A recent show on Good Morning Football spent nearly half an hour discussing whether the Steelers are better off today than at the end of the 2021 season. It’s an interesting topic, and one we felt deserved some further analysis. Let’s take a look:
The Loss of the Steelers Star Quarterback
The Good Morning Football analysis of this situation made it clear that the people they had brought on the show all felt that the Steelers performance during 2021 was – in complete honesty – an embarrassment.
Despite this, much is being made of the loss of Ben Roethlisberger, who announced his retirement in January. Ben is regarded as a future Hall of Fame quarterback, and this isn’t the first time that the Steelers have had to deal with such a nightmare scenario. In 1984, two-time Super Bowl MVP and former league MVP Terry Bradshaw put the franchise in a similar position.
The Steelers currently have three options for replacing Roethlisberger. They already have Mason Rudolph, who has been patiently waiting in the wings for a shot at the starting job, along with Dwayne Haskins who just signed an original round tender to remain with the team. These would be the cheapest options, but many are skeptical about whether both Rudolph and Haskins are really up to the task of replacing an experienced and talented QB like Roethlisberger. Of course, the Steelers have another quarterback who may be their best bet, who we’ll be getting to in a moment. These three quarterbacks in total are considered the first “option.”
The second choice would be to sign or trade for another talented veteran. A top level signing may be able to keep the Steelers in the running for the playoffs… or maybe even a championship? This looks to be something of a long shot at this point, as current revenues from online NFL Betting suggest that the Steelers chances of making such a performance this year are unlikely at best. We’ve seen names like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson find homes elsewhere, so who’s left?
Finally, with draft day quickly approaching, the Steelers could draft a new quarterback in the first round for the first time since they selected Roethlisberger himself with the 11th overall pick during the 2004 NFL Draft. A dream scenario would be to obtain a breakout player who makes all of the right headlines during his rookie season. But which quarterback is most likely to fall to them?
In-House Quarterback Options – Mason Rudolph & Dwayne Haskins
We have the previously mentioned Mason Rudolph who has a winning record of 5-4-1 as well as putting on an impressive performance against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh’s 2020 regular season finale. On the other hand, he also has several detractors who point to an erratic performance during this past seasons tie versus Detroit.
There is also Haskins – acquired by Pittsburgh during the last off-season. He’s been the Steelers No.3 quarterback since then, but failed to supplant Rudolph on the depth chart during his final game of the 2021 season.
New Quarterback Option – Mitchell Trubisky
Mitchell Trubisky was signed by the Steelers in the first few hours of the official NFL tampering period this off-season, but if he’s going to stay with the team, he’s going to need a stellar 2022 season. He has spent the 2021 season as Josh Allen’s backup for Buffalo.
His best season on record was 2018, earning Pro Bowl honors and helping lead Chicago to a divisional title. While he wasn’t able to repeat this success during his last two years at Chicago, his stats were certainly not terrible – a 14-10 starter who threw 33 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, many believe that Trubisky could still have his best years ahead of him. He is mobile enough to make plays with speed alone – a 5.6 yards per carry average during his time at Chicago proves that Trubisky is mobile enough to make devastating plays with his legs alone.
Steelers pass-catchers, including Najee Harris, are down in Boca Raton with new QB Mitch Trubisky. (via Najee Harris’ IG story) pic.twitter.com/MvoeubQbFR
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) April 8, 2022
Aggressive 2022 Free Agency
Running back Najee Harris should be and will be the future of this franchise. By upgrading the offensive line extensively already this off-season, expect Harris to get the bulk of the workload in 2022 again. Names like James Daniels and Mason Cole should provide a huge spark to the running game overall, and the Steelers should look to be a run first, run heavy team this upcoming season.
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Levi Wallace should make huge and immediate impacts in their respective positions as the newest members of the team. With All-Pros Cam Heyward and TJ Watt returning to lead this latest version of the Steel Curtain, expect this defense to finish in the top five in 2022.
So, are the Steelers doing Better now than During 2021?
In short – no. The team needs to work out their quarterback issues, and quickly, and while there are some good options listed above in terms of options, there best bet may well be to draft in a new player such as Kenny Pickett, Matt Corral, Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, or Carson Strong. Whatever the Steelers choose to do, it’s impossible to say they have improved until the situation has been resolved.