I empathize with Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. In my line of work, I’ve certainly flubbed occasional cut-and-paste commands in documents, too.
A misidentified name. A stat line in the wrong place of the column. A quote in a story gets moved and doubled up.
Hey, it happens.
But if 711 people “like” the story on Twitter and 118 people retweet it and the same cut-and-paste error remains online, I would hope that someone would catch it and change it before roughly 20 hours go by.
That didn’t occur with the Steelers tweet on Monday announcing their official season-opening depth chart.
The initial release had Mason Rudolph as the top backup to starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky instead of rookie Kenny Pickett. That was despite Pickett taking much of the second-team action down the stretch of training camp and through the preseason. So there was significant questioning and confusion from media and fans surrounding the announcement throughout Monday afternoon and into Tuesday morning.
It wasn’t until 11:15 am Tuesday when the Steelers adjusted the quarterback depth chart typo to illustrate Pickett as Trubisky’s top backup.
“It was a clerical error. That’s how the depth chart was listed at the start of training camp,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “So the cut and paste component was the cut and paste component. I know you were hoping for a little bit more colorful explanation, but it is what it is. That’s what happened.”
During his media Q&A, Tomlin insisted quarterbacks were told Monday that Trubisky was the starter, followed by Pickett and then Rudolph as the No. 3.
“We talked (Monday). They understood where we were, so I would imagine they viewed (the clerical error) as such,” Tomlin said.
Regardless of how the Steelers quarterbacks received the news, it makes more sense, in the end, to have Pickett be second in line after Trubisky.
I admit it, when I first saw Rudolph announced as the No. 2 QB, I rationalized it. I talked myself into thinking it made sense. Theoretically, early in the season, as Pickett is still getting used to NFL prep weeks as a rookie, maybe it’s wiser to have Rudolph at the ready as an in-game reliever out of the bullpen if Trubisky gets hurt. Rudolph has performed that role in the NFL. Pickett hasn’t.
And if Trubisky was then out long term, maybe that’s when the first-round draft choice out of Pitt gets ready to make his NFL debut, following a full week of practice and film study, knowing he is about to make a start.
Getting thrown into a game mid-contest in September is no easy task for a rookie. Even Ben Roethlisberger, who went 14-0 as a rookie starter during the 2004 regular season, struggled when he was thrust into the third quarter of a Week 2 contest in Baltimore.
Down 20-0, Roethlisberger had to replace an injured Tommy Maddox and went 12 of 20 with two touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions and took two sacks. The Ravens ended up winning 31-13.
So, with two road games against division rivals over the first three weeks, it may not have been the dumbest idea ever to avoid putting Pickett in a similar situation.
I get that argument. But at least what the Steelers have done now is streamline things. They’ve minimized some of the QB clutter they’ve created for themselves by having Trubisky, Pickett and Rudolph all still on the depth chart to start the season.
Trubisky is the starter. Pickett is the backup. And Rudolph is in “break glass in case of emergency” territory. That’s as opposed to Pickett being the long relief guy and Rudolph the spot starter or mop-up pitcher that some were assuming he’d be when the depth chart was first released.
Given how the offensive line has performed and how often Trubisky and Pickett have had to make plays on the run in the preseason and in training camp, both quarterbacks may have to absorb a lot of hits this season. So don’t be surprised if that QB depth chart changes multiple times throughout the year based on injury or performance.
So the Steelers better double-check the “cut-and-paste components” diligently before hitting send from here on out.
Live look at the Steelers office pic.twitter.com/QZcfIYYUaL
— Valure Spinners (@v_helium) September 6, 2022
In our latest “Breakfast With Benz” podcast, Tim Benz and Joe Rutter examine the Steelers depth chart. They also discuss the quarterback situation, some lingering injury concerns and Sunday’s game against the Bengals.
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