Panic isn't a word that is generally associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are quite possibly the most stable franchise in sports. They have had three head coaches in over half a century. They have won six Super Bowls. And their current head coach has never experienced a losing season.
But the anxiety level on the banks of the Monongahela River is ratcheting up because Mike Tomlin's stretch of non-losing seasons is in very serious jeopardy. After losing 29-17 to the Jacoby Brissett-led Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, talk radio in the Steel City will no doubt center on the notion of removing quarterback Mitch Trubisky and replacing him with first-round rookie Kenny Pickett.
But the reality is that Trubisky's limitations aren't the Steelers' only problem. Or their biggest problem. This team has real issues on both sides of the ball—and a change under center isn't going to fix them.
Earlier this week, while appearing on The Mike Tomlin Show on the team's YouTube channel, Pittsburgh's head coach indicated that he wasn't considering major changes to the starting lineup—including at quarterback.
“I’m not even in the neighborhood of having discussions like that, man,” Tomlin said, via Bob Quinn of Steelers Nation. “I’m more concerned about our collective growth and development and what we’re putting together in terms of what we desire to do to engineer victory. [Trubisky is] just a component of it.”
Tomlin's patience was put to the test Thursday night by a game that was in many respects a carbon copy of Pittsburgh's Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots.
The good news for the Steelers offense is that the team set a season high in yardage. The bad news is that season high was 308 yards. Pittsburgh entered Thursday's action dead last in the AFC in total offense, and this week's total isn't going to help that ranking much.
Does Trubisky bear his share of responsibility for another lackluster offensive effort? Sure. His numbers Thursday were a testament to mediocrity—20 completions in 32 attempts for 207 yards and a passer rating of 81.1. Yet again, Trubisky flatly refused to attack the middle of the field.
This is not new. It's been a theme all season.
But solely blaming Trubisky for this offense's inability to average 300 yards of offense three weeks into the season is unfair. There is plenty of blame to go around.