Brandon Walker: What really is the ‘standard’ these days for the Steelers?

SHOULD HE STAY THE STARTER?—Mitch Trubisky didn’t turn too many heads in the Steelers’ loss to the New England Patriots, 17-14, Sept. 18. (Photo by Courier photographer Marlon Martin)

Canada needs to go; Pickett needs to start

by Brandon Walker, For New Pittsburgh Courier

In the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 17-14 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 18, there were fans on Twitter, in the stands, and fellow pundits in the media calling for them to fire offensive coordinator Matt Canada and bench quarterback Mitch Trubisky in favor of rookie Kenny Pickett. Trubisky did not push the ball down the field as he should, they should not have waited until the fourth quarter to go uptempo on offense, and the play-calling was questionable to say the very least.

And you know what, Steeler fans, I agree that there needs to be a change at offensive coordinator and quarterback. The reason is that the Steelers need to face the reality that they do not have a good team right now, and you need to see what you have in Pickett and take this as a rebuilding year for the Steelers.

I know the Steelers do not “rebuild,” but the Steelers need to take two steps back to take four steps forward, and maybe going 5-12 or 6-11 could get you a foundational piece that is needed for the Steelers to get out of this quagmire of mediocrity that they are stuck in right now.

If you keep starting Trubisky and have Canada call plays, the Steelers will be lucky to be 9-8, and that is if you have heroic efforts on defense like they had in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals back on Sept. 11.

 

Put this in perspective; two weeks ago, the Steelers were plus-five in the turnover department, recorded seven sacks, and won at the gun in overtime, and that was after Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked an extra point that would have won Cincinnati the game.

That is not a sign of a good team, and they do not have an exceptionally good overall roster. T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Fitzpatrick, and Myles Jack are elite-caliber players, but what do they have besides that on defense?

Alex Highsmith had three sacks against the Bengals, but against the Patriots without Watt on the other end, he had just three tackles including a tackle for loss. Matter of fact, the Steelers recorded zero sacks against New England and three hits on Mac Jones. Everyone sees the difference on defense when Watt is off the field. The corners are merely average, and there is a total lack of depth on the defensive roster.

Back to the offense. Sure they have young players with Pro Bowl and All-Pro potential in Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, and Diontae Johnson, but they have the worst offensive line because they hoped Dan Moore, Kendrick Green, and Kevin Dotson would make the next step in their development, then went to try to get a quick fix in getting mediocre Mason Cole and James Daniels in free agency, and they overpaid to keep Chukwuma Okorafor. “Chucks” got $9 million per year when he would never get that in the open market.

The issue with the Steelers is that the “standard” has been slipping in the organization for a long time, whether the organization realizes it or not. Trubisky is starting right now over Pickett because that gives them the opportunity to get to 9-8 and hopefully backdoor their way into the playoffs just to get blown out by an AFC heavyweight like the Buffalo Bills or Kansas City Chiefs. Since when is just merely having a winning record the standard for Steelers football?

Last time I checked, Super Bowls are the standard, and it seems like the Steelers have gone away from that because they look for quick fixes just to extend the streak on non-losing seasons; but who cares because they have not been to a Super Bowl since 2010 and have not won a playoff game since 2016? How is starting an average-at-best quarterback and letting a man that is barely qualified to call plays at a Power Five College level, much less in the National Football League, benefit the team this year?

How is trading 2023 draft picks for average players (Ahkillo Witherspoon, Malik Reed, Jessie Davis) help you in the future? The Steelers are making short-sighted decisions when it comes to personnel decisions. That is why, if I must rate the Steelers’ 53-man roster, they are between 20-25 among the 32 NFL teams.

The Steelers need to rip the Band-Aid off and realize that what they did on Sunday, Sept. 18, did not work and will not work. Let’s see if Pickett can one day help the Steelers get back to the Super Bowl-or-bust standard that they had in the past.

 

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