Pittsburgh Steelers are set to have their next quarterback battle this season, but for fans who don’t want to make a prediction, there’s always hand-picking the victor. Here you’ll find the latest odds from online sportsbooks on whether Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky will start Week One of the regular season in 2018.
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers had an open quarterback battle was during the 1996 offseason, when Jim Miller, Mike Tomczak, and Kordell Stewart competed for the position.
A fresh group of opponents is set to fight for the post some three decades later. Kenny Pickett will be evaluated for the first time as a Steeler this weekend at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for rookie minicamp.
Following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers spent the offseason retooling and reloading in order to find a successor. The Steelers added three players after free agency and the NFL draft. Trubisky, Mitch, Kenny Pickett, and Chris Oladokun will join Rudolph, Mason in the quarterback room.
Oladokun, the seventh-round selection, isn’t in the running for the starting position, so it’s a three-man competition. Will it be a rookie, a free-agent signing wanting to make a splash, or an inside candidate looking to make a statement?
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Pickett also has the advantage of reconnecting with Matt Canada, the Pitt recruiter. Because Canada went for LSU, the two never worked together in college, but Pickett is acquainted with Canada’s ideals, and Canada clearly believed Pickett fit in with his goals.
Pickett is a rookie, which makes him susceptible. Yes, he’ll be playing on Heinz Field and in a community that welcomed him throughout his college career, but the move to the NFL should not be overlooked. Adjusting to NFL defenses and the game’s tempo, as well as learning a new playbook, are all challenges.
However, Whipple, who coached Pickett for three seasons at Pitt and served as Roethlisberger’s quarterbacks coach for his first three seasons, feels Pickett’s adjustment to the NFL will be easier than other rookies since he will be in a familiar atmosphere.
“I’m not sure whether it’s the simplest adjustment,” Whipple said, “but it’s a lot simpler than it was for Ben or other rookies I had at Cleveland.”
Ryan Clark offers his thoughts on Mitchell Trubisky’s decision to join the Steelers.
5 years of NFL experience
Why does he have a chance to start: Trubisky was signed on the first day of free agency by the Steelers, who moved fast to sign the former No. 2 overall selection.
In March, Tomlin observed, “He’s young and experienced.” “To be completely honest with you, he’s probably won more than anybody else in the field.”
He spent the previous season as Josh Allen’s backup in Buffalo, appearing in six games and completing 6-of-8 passes for 43 yards and an interception. But, following a four-year run in Chicago, where he excelled in his second year before faltering in his last two, he thought that year in Buffalo was beneficial.
In this quarterback battle, Trubisky’s strength is his seasoned expertise and a skill set that fits well with Canada’s style.
Why he’s in danger: Trubisky hasn’t played important minutes since 2020, despite throwing 16 touchdowns and eight picks in his last season as Chicago’s starter. Trubisky was also benched in Week 3 in favor of Nick Foles, but he was restored by Week 12. Still, he was inconsistent during his Bears tenure, and the work he’s done subsequently has largely gone unnoticed. The Steelers won’t know for sure whether his Jekyll-and-Hyde behavior is over until he’s on the field and in game settings.
Of the three quarterbacks fighting to start for the Steelers, Rudolph, Mason may have the best chance. Icon Sportswire/Shelley Lipton
4 years of NFL experience
Why he has a shot to start: With four seasons in the organization, Rudolph is the group’s most experienced player. He has the advantage of two years of experience with Canada, first as a position coach and then as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator. Rudolph spoke about gaining the chance to lead the Steelers the way he wanted when Roethlisberger retired, implying that now that Roethlisberger is gone, he’ll have more freedom to be himself.
Why he’s in danger: Since a tumultuous start to his Steelers career in 2019, when he got thrown in the starting job after Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow injury in Week 2, Rudolph has largely been an average to below-average quarterback in spot starts. In Week 17 of the 2020 season, he had his greatest performance against the Browns, completing 22 of 39 passes for 315 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in a defeat. When Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19 less than 24 hours before the Steelers’ game against the Detroit Lions in 2021, Rudolph was put back into the starting lineup. He completed 30 of 50 passes for 242 yards, one touchdown, and one interception this time, with many of the passes being off-target and erratic. He did had a 26-yard sprint, demonstrating the mobility that the Steelers are looking for in their next quarterback.
“As a starter, Mason is 5-4-1,” Colbert remarked in February. “He found out he was going to be the starting Saturday night in one of those games this year, and he tried to give us what he could.” We came close to winning the game but fell short. As a starter, I’m certain that Mason has won more games than he has lost. We’ll see where it goes. You have to show yourself as a winning NFL starter over 16 games, and I’m excited to see whether that’s the case.
In the end, Rudolph is a competent quarterback, but Pickett and Trubisky have more promise and playmaking abilities, giving them an advantage over the competition.