Steelers latest QB drama is further proof Mike Tomlin's standard is long gone

The Pittsburgh Steelers are debating between two losing hands in Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett. Players are involved. It's not a great look.

New York Jets v Pittsburgh Steelers
New York Jets v Pittsburgh Steelers / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The standard is the standard, right? It's been weeks since their season ended at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, and the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room remains in flux.

Much of that has to do with player turnover, namely at the quarterback position. Kenny Pickett has done little to prove he's the QB of the future, while Mason Rudolph is a free agent fresh off a brief run to lead Pittsburgh to the playoffs. Pickett remains the starter for now, it would seem. Retaining Rudolph is a priority for the Steelers as well. The longer this lingers, the worse it's going to get.

"His teammates like him, several have politicked for him, and another indicated there is enough of a question as to who should be the starter that the coaching staff needs to figure it out in a hurry," Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said of Rudolph and the QB battle.

Tomlin and owner Art Rooney II challenged Pickett in their end of season press conference, but also reluctantly admitted they are committed to his development. The Steelers hired Arthur Smith as offensive coordinator, who also hinted that he's excited to work more with Pickett and gain his trust.

Steelers players gossiping about Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett

It's not a great look for Tomlin and the standard he preaches that Steelers players have leaked their feelings on the quarterback battle to the press. It also speaks to Tomlin's lack of leadership in this particular instance that Pickett's teammates think lowly enough of him to openly prefer another passer.

Perhaps most importantly, though, is that the Steelers are picking between two quarterbacks who aren't good enough to take them to the next level. Even at their best, neither Pickett nor Rudolph can compete with the class of the AFC. Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes-led teams aren't scared of Rudolph or Pickett.

The Steelers have other options, if they so choose. Tomlin's preferred style of play lends itself to a game-manager at quarterback, a strong rushing attack and an elite defense. Unfortunately for him, those facets alone won't win many games in the playoffs.

That style of winning, much like Tomlin's influence in the locker room, no longer applies.

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