The Pittsburgh Steelers pride themselves as a family-oriented organization. Whether it is literal brothers joining arms on the field or the sense of brotherhood within the locker room, Steelers players and coaches alike join an exclusive fraternity once they walk through the doors in Pittsburgh. As the Steelers underwent, and continue to undergo, a full makeover throughout this off-season, we’ve heard from various Steelers alumni on their thoughts, suggestions, and even criticism on moves the Steelers have made; it is time to add former Head Coach Bill Cowher to that list.
Cowher joined his ex-quarterback Jim Miller and Pat Kirwin on Movin’ the Chains on SiriusXM Radio to talk about the promotion of Omar Khan to General Manager and the healthy quarterback battle heading into training camp.
Leading into the 1996 season, Cowher went through his own quarterback battle. Included in that was Kordell Stewart, Miller, and Mike Tomczak. This go-around in 2022, Head Coach Mike Tomlin has Mason Rudolph, Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Chris Oladokun competing for the starting quarterback spot. Even with the Steelers using their first 2022 draft pick on a promising quarterback and Rudolph being the longest-tenured Steelers quarterback on the roster, Cowher likes another league veteran to earn the top spot on the depth chart come September and related the scenario to what he saw in 1996:
“Jimmy listen, I hate to go back to it, but let’s just go back to when Neil O’Donnell left. We sat there with you (Miller) in the room and we had Kordell Stewart, and we had Mike Tomczak. We had three quarterbacks and I just remember at that time, I said, ‘Okay, we’ll try to split it up.’ If you remember at a very early time in that process, I asked Kordell to go to receiver because it was just too hard to get three quarterbacks enough reps to really legitimize, to make a very true, evaluation. So, I think that’s going to be the toughest thing for them to do.”
Cowher then proclaimed his favorite in the race:
“I do like Mitch Trubisky. I agree with you. I think in the right system, I think he’s athletic, he can get on the perimeter. I think a lot of the things Ben [Roethlisberger] did early in his career and was not doing late in his career, they have that now in that backfield. I think you’ve got three guys who can move around. There’s a lot more athleticism I would say back there, but you don’t have the veteran guy that is out there making all the calls. So, it’s going to be a different case. It’s going to be a new system, you know Mason has the up on that because he’s been in this system before, but at the same time, I do like Mitch Trubisky.”
Steelers fans are well aware of Tomlin’s stance on determining a depth chart too early; it is something he simply doesn’t do. But with that said, Trubisky was taking to bulk of reps with the first team in OTA’s with Rudolph and Pickett looking on. Although we are too far out to confirm any ‘lead in the quarterback race,’ I’d argue that Tomlin and Cowher are on the same page of considering Trubisky to be their QB1 as of where we stand today.
During Cowher’s tenure with the Steelers, he was able to be present for the arrivals of former-General Manager Kevin Colbert and newly-promoted Khan at a very early stage in their respective careers. As a part of the ‘changing of the guard’ within the front office in Pittsburgh, Cowher sounded off on Khan and what he’s going to bring to the general manager position within the Steelers organization:
“I think he was the right man for the job and I’m very happy for him as he takes on this new responsibility,” Cowher said.
Khan has been widely known for this salary cap savvy as a part of constructing contracts with players and coaches. As the general manager, Khan’s duties are going to certainly expand on that. Cowher talked some on Khan’s growth within the Steelers and what he expects Khan will do in his new role:
“Well I think when Omar came in there, I think the first thing is we were just getting ready to deal with the cap. There was an ever-changing philosophical approach we had to take because it was kind of a new approach to things, and so Omar came in there and did a lot of the negotiations, dealing with the cap, understanding the repercussions of long-term contracts and where we were in certain positions in terms of the years ahead. So he had a big picture outlook on it. I think the biggest thing I’ve seen is his growth in the personnel department. He’s sat in there, he’s sat in through all these drafts, understand how you put the board together, understand how you value players as it relates to your team and putting a grade on them. So, I think those are the areas that I see he will continue to grow at, that he needs to grow at, and I think again, being behind Kevin and with Kevin at every step of the way, that was a great teacher for him.”
As we continue to inch closer to training camp in Latrobe, it is safe to assume more and more eyes are going to be following this battle at quarterback. But as Cowher highlighted, Colbert did a great job of getting the right players in the Steelers’ quarterback room to add new athleticism they were missing in years past. Not to mention, Khan thrives at grading and evaluating players, which is a critical component to a position battle that is a first for Tomlin.
Who do you think is considered as QB1 right now? Do you agree with Cowher’s remarks on what to expect? Let us know in the comments below!