Inside Conditions: There has to be an improvement this year at QB for the Steelers…right?  

During the 2024 offseason and preseason, a percentage of fans, foes, media, and malcontents have had varying views regarding the lack of so-called competitive spirit in the current QB room of the Pittsburgh Steelers. During the early days of the Russell Wilson signing, in the minds of a few and maybe the hearts of many, the acquisition of Wilson was strictly to come in and be a teacher and Gatorade fetcher for the overrated ex-Steelers and now Philadelphia Eagles QB Kenny Pickett. When that scenario failed to transpire and Kenny Pickett was not given the keys to the “yinzer” kingdom as the heir apparent, Pickett realized that he would not just be handed the job, listened to the “voices” inside and demanded a trade. I don’t know, did someone neglect to take their meds that day? Pickett obviously and mistakenly inflated his value as a first-round draft choice and banking on the premise that the Steelers would not honor the ludicrous request and eventually bow down and cave into his demands. In reality, what happened was that they immediately shipped him off to Philly, post-haste.

Nowadays, the storyline is centered around competition. Gone are the days when the performance expectations for Russell Wilson were minimal because Wilson was expected to come in to sculpt the talent of Kenny Pickett into a top-flight QB and then ride off into the sunset. But wait, there was no hemming and hawing about the competition then, was there? Have you ever been in a situation in the workplace when a person many years younger than you was hired by the company that you worked for?  After the new hire, you were then expected to train that person and prepare them to become your superior after they were trained. In addition to being promoted over you, their salary tripled yours.

Many folks expected Russell Wilson to come in to start for maybe a season or an abbreviated season. After that short and unremarkable tenure and without a whimpering or whining, Kenny Pickett would ride into the concluded battle, a day late and a body short, counting the corpses of the opposing warriors lying lifeless out on the battlefield, eyes wide shut.

All along, Kenny Pickett had been stationed at the rear of the battle observing and taking notes from the experienced and battle-tested General Russell Wilson, poised to stroll in at a moment’s notice to relieve Wilson of his command after all of the blood, sweat, and tears battles were completed.

Folks were not talking about a competition between Russell Wilson and Kenny Pickett because Pickett considered himself anointed and appointed, especially when compared to a bargain-basement, soon-to-be-washed-up, ex-Pro Bowl QB. Also financially, the Steelers wouldn’t lose much. See, it’s not that Justin Fields doesn’t respect the legacy of Russell Wilson; it’s that he disrespects getting splinters in his gluteus maximus from riding the pine. Justin Fields wants to compete, not against Russell Wilson, but against himself. And I’ll bet you that neither one of them will fill up a five-gallon bucket with crocodile tears, refuse to dress, and put their pamper on if either wins the starting position.

Now for the gladiator-like expectations from a few of the plasma-thirsty media with reserved press box seats and tickets…Picture them entering the stadium with blood dripping from the corners of their mouths, waiting for the Russell Wilson-Justin Fields battle to begin. Zac Wassinck recently posted this fantasy-based nugget of poo-poo la-la on Yardbarker: “Steelers Insider Expands on Lack of Russell Wilson/Justin Fields Competition.” The zac attack posted a quote by Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. Kaboly offered the following observation: “Watching (Justin Fields) in these two weeks, sometimes he looks like (future Hall of Famer) Ben Roethlisberger out there, and sometimes he looks like Mark Malone out there.” Kaboly continued: “To be honest with you, that’s just how I view it. He needs some more work to be done. You can see the talent. He’s easily the most athletic guy out there. I mean, he just makes people look like fools out there in this setting. But you’ve got to be consistent, and that’s what the issue was (when he was with the Chicago Bears from 2021-2023).”

I continue to regurgitate the following stat in various forms. If Justin Fields, who threw for 16 touchdowns in 2023, is considered inconsistent, then all of the Steelers QBs in 2023 who collectively threw for a paltry 13 touchdowns would have to be defined as “non-existent.” Zac also quoted NFL analyst Steven Ruiz of The Ringer. Mr. Ruiz is quoted as saying that he believes that the Steelers can be, “an 11-to-12-win football team” if they get “average” quarterback play this season.

While plenty can happen between now and the first day of September, Tomlin and company hope Wilson will give Pittsburgh what the club didn’t have for the bulk of the 2023 campaign. The Steelers won 10 games with a depleted defense and a seedy offense.  Do you mean to tell me that the Steelers cannot win two more games with Russell Wilson and Justin Fields to improve their 2024 won-loss record to 12-5? A few of these guys maybe had better steer clear of the MD-2020 and the Panama Red Gummy Bears, well, at least while they are covering professional football.




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