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Mark Madden: If there was a Steelers quarterback league, Mitch Trubisky would have won it

There was never any legitimate competition for the Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback job. When you consider how the quarterbacks were deployed at training camp and in the exhibition games, it’s clear. It was all lip service and media strangulation.

But if there had been a contest, Mitch Trubisky would have won it.

The job had always been his, but Trubisky was the top quarterback during the Steelers’ preseason. He added an exclamation point to that in Sunday’s exhibition finale against visiting Detroit.

Trubisky was 15 for 19 for 160 yards and a touchdown. He threw some nice balls. Trubisky was accurate and mobile. (He’s better at maintaining the latter. That offensive line is excrement.)

The two-minute drill that closed the first half was the icing on the cake: Trubisky was 6 for 6 for 83 yards. He capped the drive with a 6-yard scoring pass to Steven Sims.

Trubisky played so well that he clearly won a nonexistent quarterback league.

Trubisky played well enough to give the impression that he could win games and be more than just a placeholder for rookie Kenny Pickett, the Steelers’ first-round pick this year.

Trubisky deserves more respect than he has received since his arrival. He was second-choice overall in 2017. He led a dying Chicago franchise to the playoffs twice in four seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018.

Trubisky has pedigree. More than Pickett does.

If the Steelers disappear from the playoff battle, coach Mike Tomlin will try to hand the job over to Pickett during the season. That is fair. Pickett is the future.

But at the start of the campaign, Trubisky gives the Steelers a better chance of winning.

Trubisky is only 28. He may be better than Pickett longer than expected. He might be better than Pickett, period.

Trubisky can also be killed if he plays behind that offensive line. It’s terrible. Some high-draft picks should have been spent on that group rather than shiny new toys.

Left tackle Dan Moore Jr. is a human penalty. One early action pushed the entire offensive line back into Trubisky. There is no standout. No one who is even average. No glue or even anything to hold together. The unit appears physically weak and is easily bullied.

As bad as those offensive linemen are, indoor linebacker Devin Bush might be even worse. It’s impossible to imagine running defense improving with him in the middle.

Bush made a stop on a fourth and short game. But he also blew up when Detroit converted third-and-17 to a tie. Bush is not stuck in blockades and appears physically weak. He plays like he’s scared.

But Bush is about to start. Robert Spillane has arguably been worse than Bush, if such a concept is possible. Spillane has heart, unlike Bush. Spillane is just worthless.

The Steelers would also like to justify taking Bush’s tenth place in 2019. But that becomes more untenable every time Bush takes the field.

Citizens are sweating because TJ Watt and Diontae Johnson hurt Sunday’s game. Tomlin says neither injury is a long-term problem. says Tomlin.

Either it would be a terrible loss for a long time, let alone for the long term. Losing watts would be disastrous.

The Steelers were 9-4 (including playoffs) last season when Watt played the entire game. They were 0-4-1 when Watt missed a game or played limited snaps due to an injury.

That is a tribute to the value of Watt. It is also a reminder that he has missed a lot of time.

But Watt has only missed four full games during his five NFL seasons. Perhaps last year was an outlier, not the start of a trend.

Bet Steelers quarterbacks get hurt, maybe often. The attack line will facilitate that.

That’s why the Steelers aren’t allowed to trade Mason Rudolph. They need more three quarterbacks this year than a fifth or sixth round draft pick next year.

Fans at Acrisure Stadium chanted Pickett’s name on Sunday. He’ll be the starting quarterback soon enough. Let’s hope it’s not too early and not from a fracture or concussion.

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