Despite The Steelers’ Great Offseason, It’s a Long Way From Football in Shorts to the Super Bowl
Things are going so swimmingly even the guy Kenny Pickett replaced is firmly in Pickett’s corner.
If there was any lingering doubt as to whether Kenny Pickett has already become the Pied Piper of Pittsburgh, Mitch Trubisky erased it emphatically this week upon the opening of OTAs.
Trubisky, you might recall, was signed last offseason to be Ben Roethlisberger’s successor at quarterback.
Then the Steelers selected Pickett in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft.
Trubisky still wound up as the starter last September.
Then the Steelers benched him in October in favor of Pickett.
That might have been enough to sour many on their Pittsburgh experience, but Trubisky wound up signing a two-year contract extension to secure his future with the Steelers beyond the one season he had remaining on his initial deal.
And the relationship he’s developed with Pickett had a “huge” impact on Trubisky’s decision to do so.
“I just wanted to come back because me and Kenny have gotten so close and I just want to help him in any way I can,” Trubisky insisted. “We love having Mason (Rudolph) back, too.
“We’re gonna have a lot of fun and we’re gonna get to work.”
Could things be going any better for the Steelers this offseason?
They acquired, among others, linebacker Cole Holcomb, cornerback Patrick Peterson and guard Isaac Seumalo in veteran free agency.
They added potential starters and/or quick contributors when they drafted offensive tackle Broderick Jones, cornerback Joey Porter Jr., defensive tackle Keeanu Benton and tight end Darnell Washington in succession.
And just this week they secured the services of veteran outside linebacker Markus Golden, who might just be the answer to the nagging question about who was going to serve as the depth player and the much-need rotational replacement for T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
The Steelers have had all that going for them since last season ended at 9-8 and just shy of the playoffs.
And now the quarterbacks room is singing “Kum Ba Yah” in three-part harmony.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d suggest it was time for somebody in Ed Gainey’s office to start planning a parade.
Alas, I know better, and so does Cam Heyward.
“We have a lot of different parts in now,” Heyward acknowledged. “You can definitely see that newer guys are here.
“I just don’t like putting stock in ‘Oh, you won the offseason. Now you’re going to win the Super Bowl.’ I don’t look at it like that.”
Heyward’s 12 seasons in the NFL have taught him the folly of looking too far ahead too fast.
Projections are all well and good, but it’s performance and production that wins in the regular season and the postseason.
And the Steelers are still a long way from finding out if what they’re projecting for this season actually comes to be, as is every other team in the league.
“I think we have a lot more growth that needs to take place,” Heyward continued. “I look forward to that. I don’t like rushing the process. I don’t like thinking all our eggs are in our basket right now.
“It’s about growing and continuing to keep working at our craft and we’ll see where we’re at at the beginning of this thing.”
Winning the offseason, if even possible, isn’t celebrated with a Lombardi.
“I don’t know who wins the offseason,” Heyward added. “If you’re worried about winning the offseason, you’re in the wrong business.”
Even if your quarterback is Kenny Pickett.