PITTSBURGH — For the primary time in his 15-year head teaching profession, Mike Tomlin is getting into an offseason with out Ben Roethlisberger because the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ franchise quarterback for the upcoming season.
Whereas Roethlisberger, 39, has but to make the official announcement, Tomlin stated he is “continuing with the belief” that the longtime quarterback will not be enjoying subsequent 12 months. Earlier this season, Roethlisberger said “all signs” pointed to the Week 17 win towards the Cleveland Browns being his last dwelling recreation at Heinz Subject. After the Steelers’ playoff exit towards the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Roethlisberger did not use the phrase retirement however called his 18-year career with the franchise “an honor” and stated he’s “wanting ahead” to the following chapter.
Meaning Tomlin is tasked with discovering the Steelers’ subsequent franchise quarterback.
“I am enthusiastic about that — that problem,” he stated in his annual season wrap-up Tuesday. “These of us which can be rivals are. It is a problem, man. It sort of makes you uneasy. However I’ve discovered to run to these challenges. I’ve discovered to understand these challenges. The uncertainty surrounding them is inspiring to me when it comes to producing work.”
The Steelers will undoubtedly herald new arms to compete for the beginning job, and Tomlin stated he would not care if the recent faces come from free company, a commerce or the 2022 NFL draft.
“All choices are on the desk,” Tomlin stated. “I take pleasure in working with Kevin (Colbert) this time of 12 months as a result of we communicate plain English. Now we have to enhance our soccer workforce. There’s two main methods you do it. You do it to free company, and also you do it by means of the draft. Now we have to have a look at what’s obtainable to us within the draft positionally. And we have now to have a look at what’s obtainable to us, doubtlessly, in free company, positionally, after which we sort of convey these two discussions collectively. And it sort of offers us a path during which to go about addressing our wants.”
With extra cap flexibility than in earlier seasons, the workforce may discover including a quarterback by way of commerce, like Russell Wilson, or signal a mid-level veteran, akin to a free-agent quarterback like Jameis Winston, to both be a bridge or the following franchise quarterback.
The Steelers are slated to select No. 20 general within the upcoming draft, and with a weaker quarterback class, a participant like Pitt’s Kenny Pickett or North Carolina’s Sam Howell could possibly be obtainable on the Steelers’ choice.
Tomlin additionally stated he hasn’t expressed a desire between bringing in a veteran over a rookie to keep away from a rebuilding course of.
In on the lookout for a quarterback, Tomlin acknowledged that mobility is a crucial positional trait.
“Man, quarterback mobility is valued not solely by me, however everybody,” he stated. “It is only a part of right this moment’s recreation and more and more so.”
The Steelers enter the 2022 season with just one quarterback below contract in Mason Rudolph, although Dwayne Haskins additionally spent the 2021 season on the Steelers’ roster. Tomlin stated each can have the chance to compete for the beginning job.
“Mason and Dwayne have had their moments, however they’re going to need to show that,” Tomlin stated when requested if both could possibly be an on a regular basis starter. “And never solely within the workforce growth course of, however by means of enjoying itself. They’re guys that begin that I would not characterize as on a regular basis starters. And they also’ll be given a chance to determine themselves, and there is going to be competitors. There all the time is.
“I believe that each guys have positioned themselves to struggle that struggle with what they’ve accomplished from a piece standpoint and a professionalism standpoint in 2021.”
Rudolph began one recreation this season — a tie in Week 10 towards the then-winless Detroit Lions — and accomplished 30 of fifty makes an attempt for 242 yards, a landing and an interception. He additionally began eight video games in 2019, taking up the job after Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow harm. However he break up time with Devlin “Duck” Hodges.
Haskins, in the meantime, was solely energetic for one recreation in the course of the 2021 season after signing with the Steelers within the offseason. He competed with Rudolph for the backup spot throughout coaching camp, however finally landed because the No. 3. The previous first-rounder began 13 video games with the Washington Football Team earlier than being launched late within the 2020 season.
Along with addressing the way forward for the workforce’s quarterback place, Tomlin additionally touched on the way forward for different key members of his employees and the Steelers’ group.
• Tomlin expressed confidence in first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada, seemingly an indication that Canada will return for a minimum of yet one more season.
“I am optimistic about Matt and what he is able to doing,” he stated. “I acknowledge that we took a step again. There are some apparent tangible the explanation why that occurred. … We have to be higher. We intend to be. And that is going to require a number of planning and work. Gamers and coaches.”
Tomlin additionally acknowledged frustration with the dearth of offensive success. The Steelers averaged 4.8 yards per play in 2021 after averaging 5.2 in 2020.
“I am not expressing satisfaction with any part of it,” he stated. “I am simply acknowledging that he brings issues to the desk which can be engaging, and we must be higher and we can be and that, you already know, that is a part of it as properly. However I am not acknowledging satisfaction with of any part of what it’s that we have accomplished as I sit right here right this moment.”
• Tomlin stated he and defensive coordinator Keith Butler, 65, have beforehand had conversations about 2021 being Butler’s final season. Butler’s one-year extension ends after the 2021 season.
“Butz has had conversations about this being doubtlessly his final 12 months,” Tomlin stated. “He and I’ve not had a chance to take a seat down. I am doing participant interviews. He is doing participant interviews, and so we’ve not had an in depth dialog in that regard. However defensively, you already know, we did not play in addition to we would like both. We have to get higher in that space.”
• Whereas normal supervisor Kevin Colbert’s contract expires after the 2022 NFL draft, Tomlin remains to be working intently with Colbert to provide you with a plan for this offseason. The 2 have additionally talked about Colbert’s future with the workforce.
“He and I’ve had discussions about it,” Tomlin stated. “However I am going to depart it to Kevin to deal with any points relating to him on his future. My plan and our plan is to proceed within the brief time period and like we all the time do.”