Mark Madden: Starting with Mitch Trubisky, little to like in the Steelers camp so far

Mitch Trubisky mostly struggled in Steelers training camp. He had a 17-game “seven-shooting” miss streak. On Thursday, Trubisky punctuated the 0 for 4 during a team period by swinging his helmet in frustration.

Trubisky is with a new team and learns of a new offense. The hiccups were inevitable. But apart from a good day on Wednesday, the first two weeks were difficult.

Rookie Kenny Pickett is no wonder. He holds the ball too long, often pulling it down if his first read isn’t there.

Mason Rudolph has been the most consistent quarterback. It may only be because he knows the offense, but that’s a big distinction.

The Steelers are on the playoff bubble if they’re lucky, and the odds of them being as lucky as they were at the end of last season aren’t good.

Ben Roethlisberger was so immobile last year that he could have used a walker. But he kept the games close. When the final 15 minutes came, he took on the game and used his trickery to earn six fourth-quarter wins (and another in overtime).

The Steelers won’t have that this year.

Critics of Roethlisberger say improved quarterback play and a widened offense thanks to QB mobility will put the Steelers in a better position to win after the first three quarters.

To them, I ask: Are you sure about that?


More Mark Madden

• Mark Madden: In the Steelers camp, there are more interesting issues than the daily dissection of the QB battle
• Mark Madden’s Hot Take: Steelers didn’t draft Kenny Pickett to be a quick fix
• Mark Madden: Steelers quarterback’s situation seems to be headed in the right direction


The Steelers quarterback “competition” is a sham. Trubisky was predestined to leave Week 1 the minute he signed barring injury.

But pretend the “competition” is real. Consider a dumb idea the Steelers won’t do.

How long does the “competition” last? Would it make sense to start Rudolph’s Week 1 in Cincinnati and then go from there? If Rudolph wins, let him. If he doesn’t, see how long it takes Trubisky or even Pickett to really catch up on the learning curve.

It’s a dumb idea, especially since pre-season games haven’t been played. Exhibitions have rarely counted as much as this year, especially with regard to the position of QB. That said, Trubisky would absolutely have to stink to lose his job.

But he’s given a decent run so far.

The Steelers face some kind of weird pressure this season.

Very few see them making the playoffs. But coaches and players expect it. The Steelers struggle to see themselves as they are. Small teams tend to make mistakes.

Trubisky tries to revive his career, Pickett tries to establish his career, and Rudolph doesn’t want his career to end.

Coach Mike Tomlin has this exaggerated streak of never having a losing season.

The defense is the highest paid in the NFL and has three true elite players, but it may not be that good. It wasn’t last season.

The offensive line just hopes no one gets killed on their watch. It’s one of the worst in the NFL.

Different people face different kinds of pressure.

The pressure on Tomlin goes beyond his streak.

This is Tomlin’s first season without a Hall of Fame quarterback. This is a team that needs to be trained above their talent level to be successful.

Let’s see if Tomlin is as smart as he thinks he is and needs to be.

It hasn’t been a great camp so far. Very few positives stand out. TJ Watt is dominant but plays against the Steelers offensive line. Watt could double the NFL’s single-season sack record if he played 17 games against that line. (But will Watt be healthy enough to play 17 games?)

It may take two seasons to recover from Roethlisberger’s retirement and the state the roster is in. It wouldn’t be unreasonable, but the fan base isn’t known for its patience.

Or maybe the Steelers are stuck in the cycle of finishing midfield, draft midfielder, stay midfielder.

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