Mark Madden: Steelers’ quarterback situation seems to be pointed in the right direction

Coach Mike Tomlin says he won’t micromanage or overmanage the Steelers’ quarterback situation.

But Tomlin will and is. That’s why three quarterbacks are getting equal reps in a “competition” that’s already decided.

But the Steelers have effectively handled replacing Ben Roethlisberger. (Getting him to quit was the problem. Now it’s getting him to shut up.)

The Steelers have three options that cover the present and the long term. None is perfect, but none is going to be, barring a worse record, a draft drunk with quality QBs and preferably both. (Kenny Pickett is a second-round pick most years.)

Pickett has collegiate success, a decent pedigree and good tools. Mitch Trubisky was a second pick overall and did OK in Chicago. Mason Rudolph has experience in the Steelers offense.

It’s a shame they can’t be combined into one quarterback.

Trubisky will get first crack. He starts Week 1. That’s always been a lock.

But if Tomlin keeps the situation liquid, he should be able to find what he wants among the three. That’s not standard procedure with quarterbacks in the NFL. But it would serve the Steelers best.

Don’t dismiss Rudolph. He’s looked the best of the three quarterbacks in training camp’s first few days and during the Steelers’ offseason routine.


Related

• Tim Benz: Mike Tomlin may not be re-evaluating Steelers QB battle ‘after every throw,’ but it feels like everyone else is
• Steelers inside the ropes: Rudolph has the throw of the day while Pickett, Trubisky throw INTs
• Friday Football Footnotes: Another big-money receiver contract; Baker Mayfield doesn’t want to see his old Browns jersey


Steelers fans don’t like Rudolph. He appeared weak and scared during his infamous scuffle with Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, and when he had to have his face mask cut off after being concussed vs. Baltimore. That was in 2019 when Rudolph started eight games because Roethlisberger got hurt.

Steelers fans also don’t like Rudolph because he tied Detroit last year. Yikes.

But he’s not a bad quarterback. If the Steelers cut him, he’d find employment. The Steelers might even trade him if Pickett’s progress accelerates. (If Trubisky gets injured, Rudolph starts Week 1.)

Pickett is the obvious bet for the long term, if only to justify drafting him 20th overall.

But what if Trubisky gets the Steelers into the playoffs this year?

San Francisco ditched Jimmy Garoppolo despite the success he provided. The 49ers will go with Trey Lance, the third pick overall in 2021. But Pickett isn’t Lance.

At any rate, the Steelers seem pointed in the right direction at quarterback.

That’s if they get their quarterbacks to throw the ball in the right direction. Pickett got picked Wednesday and Thursday. Trubisky got intercepted twice Thursday. Rudolph got fortunate when a likely interception got dropped.

It’s only the earliest days of camp, though.

Tomlin says he won’t micromanage and overmanage the quarterback situation. But the media covering that situation made no such promise.

Here’s hoping the quarterbacks get in at least four hours of independent video study per week. That doesn’t seem a worry. It’s not in their contracts.

It’s no longer in Kyler Murray’s contract, either. But the damage is done.

The Arizona quarterback got a new five-year contract that pays him $230 million. The absurdity of that ticket will be born out. Murray just isn’t that good.

The contract included a clause that requires four hours of independent video study per week. It since got removed due to embarrassment caused.

Murray says it’s “a joke” to insinuate that he doesn’t study film.

But that clause does more than insinuate. It was inserted by the Cardinals and agreed to by Murray.

Studying film shouldn’t be contractually required. It’s an assumed part of a quarterback’s job.

But Diontae Johnson is under contract, and he won’t even practice.

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