Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers embrace problem of shifting into post-Ben Roethlisberger period

Pickett might have essentially the most to be taught on the sector throughout camp, however as a result of he went to school at Pitt, he has had an up-close view of the Steelers. He, maybe greater than another rookie might, appreciates how a lot this looks like turning a web page in Steelers historical past.

“It is clearly a brand new period now that Ben’s gone, and we’ve different quarterbacks which are coming in right here and making an attempt to compete for the job,” Pickett mentioned. “It is an thrilling time, and I do know everybody simply needs the perfect for the crew, so we’re simply going to go on the market and compete.”

All of this, although, has lent an air of instability to considered one of sports activities’ most secure franchises. Tomlin has by no means had a shedding season as the pinnacle coach, however even the parade of defensive stars who arrived Tuesday, highlighted by reigning Defensive Participant of the Yr T.J. Watt, couldn’t offset the sense that no one is kind of positive what to anticipate from the Steelers this season.

They squeaked into the playoffs as a wild-card crew final season. However the Cincinnati Bengals’ run to the Tremendous Bowl and the Cleveland Browns’ gorgeous commerce for Deshaun Watson have reshaped the AFC North, as a part of a broader turbocharging of the AFC highlighted by Russell Wilson’s commerce to the Denver Broncos. The Steelers went to the playoffs 12 instances within the Roethlisberger period, however his exit, coinciding with the strengthening of so many different groups within the discipline, has ratcheted up the problem of the AFC panorama for these nervous concerning the Steelers’ destiny. For giant elements of this offseason, the Steelers have been one thing of an afterthought.

They, although, are removed from rebuilding. Relying on the way you measure it, the protection is essentially the most highly-compensated within the NFL — per Over the Cap, the Steelers are spending $125.8 million on protection this season, greater than another crew. There may be an onus on the unit to rebound from a subpar season, wherein it ranked twentieth in scoring and twenty fourth in complete protection, to supply help whereas the offense works itself out.

“I do not have a look at it as a transition, it is a chance to step up,” mentioned defensive deal with Cam Heyward. “It is bizarre saying Ben is a part of the historical past, however he’s. It is time for different guys to uphold that historical past and play Steelers soccer.

“As a protection, we’ve to be accountable and perceive that for us to be nice, the protection has bought to thrive. There are going to be hiccups alongside the way in which, newer quarterbacks, completely different items on the offensive line, it takes time to jell. We’re not saying it may occur out of the gate, however we’ll give them each alternative to achieve success by offering quick fields, turnovers and giving them the ball as a lot as attainable.”

That may be good for whomever the quarterback is. Solely seven rookie quarterbacks during the last 15 seasons chosen twentieth general or later began Week 1 of their rookie yr, and Pickett’s work with the backups within the spring suggests it’s unlikely he’ll win the job out of camp for the season opener. Pickett mentioned he doesn’t assume it’s a burden to attempt to observe a Steelers legend like Roethlisberger, though he additionally mentioned he believes he might win the job in camp.

“Truthfully, I do not consider it,” he mentioned. “I do know I’ve a protracted methods to go earlier than I get there.

“After all, you must go on the market and assume that you are the greatest. I positively have that mindset. However I’ve lots of work to do and quite a bit to be taught, so on the identical time it is sort of a wholesome steadiness.”