Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin refused to get drawn into talking about who will be the starting quarterback this season.
Every season, there always seems to be one team that has a ‘quarterback battle’ as teams look to try and work out which man should take them forward and lead the team. The San Francisco 49ers have theirs with Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, the Seattle Seahawks have Drew Lock and Geno Smith, but by far the most intriguing this preseason has been that of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Perhaps it’s as a result of the retirement of likely Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger adding extra spotlight, or the hype of having the first-round pick go to the local college (even playing in the same stadium on the professional level that he did in college), or the level of play that the two men have put on, or a combination of all three but the battle between Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett has been a fascinating one.
And when you take a look at the numbers, you can see just how close the battle really is.
Very thin margins
Both players have been in and out of the lineup during the preseason, with Trubisky getting the vast majority of the starter reps with Pickett beginning as the team’s third choice behind Mason Rudolph before moving up to be second string.
As a result, the stat lines roughly represent what you would expect to see from a starting quarterback over the course of a normal game if they played the whole 60 minutes, and you can clearly see that the battle is far from conclusive when it comes to being the starter:
Mitch Trubisky's preseason: 24/34, 283 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, avg 8.3 yards per attempt— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 28, 2022
Kenny Pickett's preseason: 29/36 for 261 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, avg 7.3 yards per attempt
Numbers which should give Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin a lot to think about heading into the season, and his response in his press conference after their win over the Detroit Lions has given fans something to this about too.
What has he said?
Speaking to the media after the game, Tomlin refused to be drawn into naming a starter, hinting that he might know the answer, but he wasn’t going to let the news out just yet:
Reporter: "Mike, Do you have a starting quarterback?"— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) August 29, 2022
Mike Tomlin: "I might but you guys not going to have it today."
Steelers QB battle still remains unknown👀 pic.twitter.com/6FOpgwaVYP
Now whether that is because he genuinely doesn’t know what the answer is, with the numbers making it hard to separate the two, or if he does and just doesn’t want to give anything away, only Tomlin will know.
But with two weeks to go before the Steelers open their season against the Cincinnati Bengals, fans are going to have to wait just that little bit longer to have it confirmed to them who will be under centre.