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Steelers Analysis

Can Steelers Continue Dominance of Rookie Quarterbacks?



Steelers Texans QB C.J. Stroud

The Pittsburgh Steelers are projected to face two rookie starting quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL season, starting with this Sunday’s trip to visit the Houston Texans and quarterback C.J. Stroud.

That should be a good omen for the team in those games. 

The Steelers have won nine consecutive games when facing a rookie signal caller, and under head coach Mike Tomlin, the team is 23-4 when going up against first-year quarterbacks.

This will be the fourth-earliest in the season that Tomlin has faced a rookie, but he said that Stroud doesn’t look like a wet-behind-the-ears neophyte.

“Stroud is doing an awesome job,” Tomlin said. “He looks mature beyond his years. He looks like a guy that just wore the responsibility of being a franchise quarterback at Ohio State. You know what I mean. Some programs are different than others and you do it for multiple years at a place like that man, it’s probably very similar in terms of wearing the responsibility of being a quarterback for an organization at this level. He doesn’t appear to be overwhelmed by it at all. He manages himself in game and out of game with a maturity level that’s impressive. He’s good at extending plays. He’s not just a runner when he starts to escape, his downfield vision is excellent as he extends.”

Ohio State quarterbacks are not known for their significant NFL success, but one has beaten Tomlin as a rookie before. Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith led the Baltimore Ravens to a 27-21 win over the Steelers in Tomlin’s rookie year in 2007. The Steelers had already clinched the AFC North and rested their starters for that contest.

The Steelers’ last outing against a rookie quarterback was also an Ohio State product. They beat Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears in 2021. Fields led the Bears back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead late, but Chris Boswell made a long field goal to put the Steelers back ahead.

Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick, is the first of three projected rookies on the Steelers schedule this season. They will also face the Indianapolis Colts, who are playing No. 4 selection Anthony Richardson. 


Nov. 8, 2021 vs. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears, 29-27 W
Nov. 22, 2020 at Jake Luton, Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-3 W
Nov. 15, 2020 vs. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals, 36-10 W
Dec. 8, 2019 at Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals, 23-17 W
Nov. 24, 2019 at Ryan Finley, Cincinnati Bengals, 16-10 W
Oct. 28, 2018 vs. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns, 33-18 W
Dec. 31, 2017 vs. DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns, 28-24 W
Sept. 10, 2017 at DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns, 21-18 W
Nov. 20, 2016 at Cody Kessler, Cleveland Browns, 24-9 W
Nov. 13, 2016 vs. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, 35-30 L
Sept. 25, 2016 at Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles, 34-3 L
Nov. 17, 2014 at Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans, 27-24 W
Oct. 5, 2014 at Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars, 17-9 W
Nov. 10, 2013 vs. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills, 23-10 W
Oct. 13, 2013 at Geno Smith, New York Jets, 19-6 W
Nov. 25, 2013 at Brandon Weeden, Clevleand Browns, 20-14 L
Oct. 28, 2012 vs. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins, 27-12 W
Dec. 4, 2011 vs. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Begnals, 35-7 W
Nov. 13, 2011 at Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, 24-17 W
Oct. 16, 2011 vs. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars, 17-13 W
Jan. 1, 2011 at Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns, 41-9 W
Dec. 23, 2010 vs. Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers, 27-3 W
Oct. 17, 2010 vs. Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns, 28-10 W
Dec. 14, 2008 at Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens, 12-9 W
Sept. 29, 2008 vs. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens 23-20 W (OT)
Dec. 30, 2007 at Troy Smith, Baltimore Ravens 27-21 L
Nov. 26, 2007 vs. John Beck, Miami Dolphins 3-0 W