It’s been a tale of two games for Mitch Trubisky.
In his brief time as the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Trubisky had led a game-winning drive over the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in overtime, and followed up that performance with a dud of a loss against the middling New England Patriots.
With the Steelers on a short week, facing the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, Trubisky’s feet are already dangling above the fire. If he wants to keep the job as QB1, here is what he’ll have to do.
Mitch Trubisky simply must make better decisions
Trubisky didn’t turn the ball over against the Bengals, but that changed in Week 2. Trubisky threw a pass into a crowd of Patriots defenders where the ball was tipped by Mack Wilson and picked off by Jalen Mills. It killed a promising drive for Pittsburgh that could have led to points, and ultimately help them win the game.
The Browns’ defense is full of talent at all levels. He won’t get away with trying to test the likes of Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, or John Johnson III. He has to be cautiously aggressive. Speaking of being aggressive.
Time to take chances down the field
Trubisky is averaging just 5.1 yards per attempt through two games. That’s less than the likes of Joe Flacco and Jacoby Brissett.The easy thing to do is blame the offensive line for the lack of time he has to throw, but Trubisky actually has had solid protection.
The Steelers have allowed the third lowest pressure rate in the NFL. Trubisky also has an average of 2.3 seconds to throw from the pocket. While that isn’t near the top of the league, it is enough to let plays develop rather than resorting to constant checkdowns and dump offs.
Although Matt Canada deserves a lot of blame, if you watch the film back, there were multiple plays in which Trubisky had a receiver in one-on-one coverage and he could have given them a chance to make a play.
Here, George Pickens had the inside leverage on a defensive back downfield with no safety help, and Trubisky chose to dump it off for a short gain.
Diontae Johnson had a path to the end zone, but Trubisky tossed it into a wolf pack of Patriots defenders and the pass was incomplete. The Steelers have one of the best collections of skill players in the game. Their quarterback needs to give them chances to make plays.
Mitch Trubisky must lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a win
This is the obvious answer, but that is really what it comes down to. If Trubisky has a middle-of-the-pack quarterback performance and the Steelers get the win in Cleveland, the former No. 2 overall pick will buy himself another week. If he struggles and the Steelers fall to 1-2, they have a long week to turn to rookie Kenny Pickett ahead of their Week 4 matchup with the New York Jets.
In many ways, this is the biggest regular season game of Trubisky’s career. He still has a lot of prove to Steelers fans and coaches. If he struggles, expect to see Pickett sooner than later.