Ben Roethlisberger has an opinion on who should be his heir apparent as the Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has yet to announce a starting quarterback for the Steelers' season-opener against the Bengals, but the expectation is that Mitchell Trubisky will get the starting nod over rookie Kenny Pickett.
Roethlisberger, who retired this offseason following an 18-year career that included two Super Bowl wins and just about every franchise passing record, feels that Pittsburgh's veteran quarterback should start over the rookie when the Steelers face Cincinnati on Sunday.
"In my opinion, I think Mitchell Trubisky is the starter," Roethlisberger said on his new podcast. "He should start. He's a veteran, he's been around for a while, he gives you, in my opinion, the best chance to win right now."
While he feels Trubisky should be the starter, Roethlisberger was impressed with Kenny Pickett's performance during the preseason. The third quarterback on the depth chart at the start of training camp, Pickett gradually saw his reps with the Steelers' first-team offense grow throughout the summer. He threw three touchdowns and no interceptions while completing over 80% of his passes during the preseason.
"Kenny has done a great job," Roethlisberger said. "From what I've seen in the preseason, you wouldn't be like, 'Oh man, he's a rookie. He's got some learning curves.' ... I think he's done a great job."
Roethlisberger feels that Pickett should mimic what Big Ben did at the start of his rookie season, when he started the 2004 season behind veteran Tommy Maddox. Maddox started the Steelers' first two games before an injury thrust Roethlisberger into the starting lineup. Roethlisberger went on a tear while setting a rookie record by winning his first 15 regular season starts.
"I would say this about almost all rookie quarterbacks, it benefits you to sit behind a veteran for a little bit of time," Roethlisberger said. "And I think Mitch is a great leader, a great football player, he's a great athlete, he's a good quarterback. The brought him in here for a reason, and I think he's going to mentor Kenny and I think he'll really help Kenny a lot. But in my opinion, it should be Mitch's job for the time being. If Mitch plays well, keep him in there. And even if Mitch has a bad game or something, it doesn't mean [to] just yank him."
Roethlisberger, who has spoken with both Trubisky and Pickett since joining the Steelers, wants Steelers fans to give Trubisky a fair shake should Tomlin anoint him as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback to start the 2022 season.
"People are so excited for Kenny, which they should be. He played at Pitt, they're super excited for him," Roethlisberger said. "I just hope the fans, the first time Mitch doesn't play well, they don't start booing him or yank him or do something like that. ... It will be interesting to see, but I do, in my opinion, feel that it's Mitch's job. He hasn't done anything to lose the job. He's played well enough to be the starter. But ultimately it's going to be Coach T's decision."