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The worst quarterback rooms in Steelers history

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By: Kyle Chrise

Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kenny Pickett may make black and gold history in one way

The legacy of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks are defined by two of the best to ever do it: the original TB12, Terry Bradshaw, and Big Ben Roethlisberger. Without those two, Pittsburgh’s quarterback play has less than iconic more times than not. Now that the position has been completely remodeled, let’s see where the most recent room of Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, and Mason Rudolph ranks in the annuls of black and gold history.

Bubby Brister/Todd Blackledge (1988-1989)

Bubby was never going an All-Pro, but he was the clear QB1. Todd Blackledge had five starts with six interceptions over these two seasons. He also had a 36.7 completion percentage in ‘89. That season, Pittsburgh was last in the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns, but still managed to be winners. They upset Houston in the Wildcard round, and nearly took down Denver a week later.

Season Ranks

1988: 21st in passing yards, 20th in passing touchdowns, 16th in interceptions

1989: 28th (out of 28) in passing yards, 28th in passing touchdowns, 3rd in interceptions

Kordell Stewart/Mike Tomczak (1996-1999)

After Neil O’Donnell left Pittsburgh for New York, Bill Cowher turned to Mike Tomczak and Kordell Stewart. Despite exciting playoff runs in ‘96 and ‘97, quarterback play during this time was always in the bottom half of the league.

Season Ranks

1996: 27th in passing yards, 24th in passing touchdowns, 17th in interceptions

1997: 23rd in passing yards, 9th in passing touchdowns, 22nd in interceptions

1998: 29th in passing yards, 27th in passing touchdowns, 25th in interceptions

1999: 26th in passing yards, 19th in passing touchdowns, 16th in interceptions

The Kent Graham experiment (2000)

Stewart’s camp was so bad, he lost the starting job in Week 1 to journeyman veteran Kent Graham. Injuries and poor play forced Cowher to give the job back to Stewart for 11 of the final 12 games.

Season Ranks

2000: 29th in passing yards, 28th in passing touchdowns, 10th in interceptions

The Days of Duck (2019)

Ben Roethlisberger had thrown an interception but no touchdowns when he went down for the season in 2019. Mike Tomlin was left with one of the least experienced quarterback rooms in NFL history. Mason Rudolph was a second year player who registered exactly zero snaps his rookie year. He ended up making eight starts. Devlin Hodges was an undrafted rookie, who was needed to make six starts. Needless to say, the quarterback play was less than prolific.

Season Ranks

2019: 31st in passing yards, 28th in passing touchdowns, 28th in interceptions

Kenny Pickett/Mitch Trubisky/Mason Rudolph (2022-2023)

This is probably the highest pedigree of any Steelers quarterbacks room. Two first round picks in Pickett and Trubisky, and a third quarterback who was scouted with a first-round grade in Rudolph. In reality, they became some of the least productive in the red zone.

Season Ranks

2022: 24th in passing yards, 32nd in passing touchdowns, 17th in interceptions

2023: 25th in passing yards, 30th in passing touchdowns, 4th in interceptions


After comparing the stats, it’s not unreasonable to consider Pickett’s room the worst in Steelers history. The Duck Hodges season may be statistically more lethargic, but it was also a product of multiple injuries. The last two seasons had injuries too, but also had more of a plan in place at the position. Which era do you think is the worst?

Originally posted on Behind the Steel Curtain – All Posts