Quarterback Mitch Trubisky was benched at halftime of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 4 loss to the New York Jets, and while it was first believed he was taken out of the game for his play, there is now a report that it was due to a team conflict. Trubisky was reportedly benched over a locker room confrontation with wide receiver Diontae Johnson, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
According to Gerry Dulac, Johnson was yelling at Trubisky over his lack of targets, even though there were multiple plays during which Johnson either cost his team points or the ball. Trubisky fired right back at Johnson, per Dulac, and that's when rookie Kenny Pickett was told he'd be the starter for the second half.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if the rumors of the incident were true, to which he said (via ESPN), "If it were, did you think I would share it with you in this environment? Probably not."
Tomlin said the team business will stay with the team, neither confirming nor denying what happened.
"Our business is our business and I understand in today's climate, oftentimes there's leaks, our business is getting the street. But I'm not gonna acknowledge it or confirm or deny it in these settings. I'm just not, I ain't got enough hours of my day for it."
He continued, saying that emotions in sports are good and that players getting fired up is positive.
"The things that happen among competitors from time to time is normal business. Everyone wants to win. If it transpired, it's good. It probably means there's a couple guys that wanted to win. If it didn't transpire, it probably means that it should have because we are aggressively pursuing victory. Sometimes that's emotion."
Before he was benched in that game, Trubisky was 7-for-13 with 84 yards and one interception. When Pickett came in, he went 10-of-13 with 120 yards and three interceptions in the 24-20 loss.
The quarterback situation in Pittsburgh has had question marks since the offseason, with Tomlin not spilling much about who the starter would be as the season approached. Eventually, Trubisky was named the starter over Pickett, but that did not last very long.
After replacing Trubisky against the Jets, Pickett was named the starter the following week. But after playing in one full game, Pickett was knocked out of Sunday's matchup versus the Buccaneers because of a concussion, leading to Trubisky coming in and leading the team to a 20-18 victory. In relief, Trubisky completed nine of his 12 passes with 144 yards and a touchdown.
"It feels good to win just as a team, to show my teammates what I'm capable of," Trubisky said after the game. "But I think the best part is just seeing their joy and excitement after a hard-fought victory like that. We've had some up-and-downs the last couple weeks, but to have that feeling, that's what you chase every single week."
It remains to be seen if the latest information on Trubisky's benching will have any impact on the quarterback situation going forward. Regardless, if Pickett is ruled out for the Miami Dolphins game, Trubisky would get the start and Mason Rudolph would be the backup.