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


Coach Mike Tomlin says he won’t control or over-control the Steelers’ quarterback situation.

But Tomlin will and he is. That’s why three quarterbacks get equal reps in a “contest” that’s already decided.

But the Steelers have effectively handled the replacement for 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. Neither is perfect, but neither will be, barring a worse record, a drunken draft with a quality QB, and preferably both. (Kenny Pickett is a second-round pick most years.)

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

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

Trubisky will get the first crack. Week 1 begins. That has always been a lock.

But if Tomlin keeps the situation fluid, he should be able to find what he wants between the three of them. That’s not standard procedure with quarterbacks in the NFL. But he would serve the Steelers better.

Don’t rule out Rodolfo. He looked like the best of the three quarterbacks in the early days of training camp and throughout the Steelers’ offseason grind.


• Tim Benz: Mike Tomlin may not be reassessing the Steelers’ QB battle ‘after every pitch,’ but it seems everyone else is.
• Steelers inside the ropes: Rudolph has the pitch of the day while Pickett and Trubisky throw interceptions
• Friday Football footnotes: Another big-money wide receiver deal; Baker Mayfield doesn’t want to see his old Browns jersey

Steelers fans don’t like Rudolph. He seemed weak and scared during his infamous fight with Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, and when his face mask had to be cut off after suffering a concussion against Baltimore. That was in 2019 when Rudolph started eight games because Roethlisberger was injured.

Steelers fans don’t like Rudolph either because he tied Detroit last year. Oh!

But he’s not a bad quarterback. If the Steelers cut him, he would find a job. The Steelers could even trade him if Pickett’s progress accelerates. (If Trubisky is injured, Rudolph starts Week 1.)

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

But what if Trubisky leads the Steelers to the playoffs this year?

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

In any case, the Steelers seem to be headed in the right direction at quarterback.

That is if they get their quarterbacks to throw the ball in the right direction. Pickett was elected on Wednesday and Thursday. Trubisky was intercepted twice Thursday. Rudolph got lucky when he dropped a potential interception.

However, it is only the first days of the camp.

Tomlin says he won’t control or overmanage the quarterback situation. But the media that covered that situation made no such promise.

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

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

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

The contract included a clause requiring four hours of independent video studio work per week. It has since been removed due to embarrassment.

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

But that clause does more than hint. He was inserted by the Cardinals and accepted by Murray.

Studying cinema should not be a contractual requirement. It’s an assumed part of a quarterback’s job.

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

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