Who Should Be The Starter: Trubisky or Pickett?

Kenny Pickett (left) and Mitch Trubisky (right) in Steelers training camp.

(Keith Srakocic)

Kenny Pickett (left) and Mitch Trubisky (right) in Steelers training camp.

Here We Go. Three words the city of Pittsburgh pridefully chants during football season. The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most passionate fan bases for a reason, they really do care so much about their team. Despite Trubisky winning the job, one of the most controversial topics among Pittsburghers is who should really be the starter. The two main candidates, Mitch Trubisky, and Kenny Pickett, have people questioning who is really better, and who deserves the starting role more.

Mitch Trubisky, acquired via free agency over the offseason, started all three preseason games, completed 24/34 pass attempts, threw for 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, for a total of 283 yards. Winning all 3 games, and not throwing any interceptions, football fan or not, you can agree that’s pretty spectacular. Don’t sleep now however, on Kenny Pickett, drafted first round out of Pitt in the 2022 draft, put up similar numbers. Pickett, who completed 29/34 pass attempts, for 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions as well, threw for 261 yards. 

Trubisky has a history of success. As the 2nd overall pick in 2017, he had some high expectations. Despite being a little disappointing compared to the other players in his draft class, like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, Trubisky caught on, and in 2018, he led the Bears to win the division, and make the playoffs. Having a great year, Mitch threw 24 touchdowns, to 12 interceptions, for about 3400 yards in 14 games. After an average year in 2019, nothing too special, he led the Bears to the playoffs again in 2020. 

At just 8-8, the Bears barely snuck into the last wild card spot, where they lost to the New Orleans Saints. Trubisky then signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2021, looking to prove everyone wrong again. Unfortunately for Mitch, he got just 8 pass attempts, as he was behind superstar Josh Allen all year.

Pickett, on the other hand, also has a history of success. In college at Pitt, Pickett was never any superstar until 2021. In the last game of 2017, the 5-6 Pitt Panthers faced the second ranked, 10-0 Miami Hurricanes, Pickett, making his first start, led Pittsburgh to victory. 

In 2018, Pickett showed more signs of a decent quarterback, and despite getting blown out by 4 top 25 ranked teams, a win over 23 ranked Virginia was enough to bring the Panthers atop of the ACC coastal division, where they lost to Clemson 42-10 in the championship. 

2019 was when people started noticing some talent in Pickett, after he made a diving play to win the game in overtime against 15 ranked UCF. 2019 was yet another average year, however Pickett threw for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Quicken Lane Bowl to defeat Eastern Michigan 34-30. Not so much happened in 2020, due to Covid, but Pickett, who was a projected 3rd or 4th round draft pick, decided to use his last year of eligibility in 2021. 

After blowing out a notoriously bad UMass, and beating Tennessee in a highly anticipated game, the Panthers and Pickett were huge favorites against Western Michigan. Saying the game was a shootout would be an understatement. Despite Pitt disappointingly getting upset, Pickett balled out, throwing just under 400 yards, and 6, yes SIX, touchdowns. The very next game was very similar, after Pickett threw another 5, in a 77-7 win against New Hampshire. 

The rest of 2021 went great, only losing 1 more game to Miami. At the end of the season, Pitt was 10-2 sitting on top of the ACC, with Pickett having a total of 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions on the season. Pickett threw another 4 touchdowns, defeating Wake Forest in the ACC championship. Pickett was voted 3rd in Heisman voting and was then drafted by the Steelers.

It is safe to say, Pickett and Trubisky have so much talent, success, and potential, so the question is, who deserves to be the starter? I asked that same question to Jerry Hazlett, former head coach, and current athletic director of the Allderdice Dragons football team. 

“They have 3 worthy guys [Trubisky, Pickett, Rudolph] that can play there,” Hazlett said. “They do have a 1st round pick, but they signed Trubisky figuring he can be the starter, so they will give him every opportunity. Pickett’s young, and if you know anything about football, quarterbacks don’t last long.”

“So if Trubisky goes down, Pickett will be right in there. That’s what happened with Big Ben too. But in the pro game, they have a plan, and Trubisky will start until he doesn’t start playing very well. They have very good players behind Trubisky. He has played a little bit better than Pickett has anyways.” 

This opinion seems to be pretty common, as the Steelers did eventually announce Trubisky as the starter. Pickett has so much potential though, and everyone should be extremely eager to see him take over the team after Trubisky, in hopes for him to be the next franchise QB.