In the Steelers post-game conference, Mike Tomlin said he was appreciative of Mitch Trubisky’s efforts and that he made the plays when needed.
Tomlin’s post-game perspective makes one wonder if he either sugar-coated Trubisky’s performance or simply saw something else the media or fans did not. Sure, he did make a few pass plays allowing the Steelers to get into field goal range giving Chris Boswell the opportunity to hit the game-winning field goal with 4 seconds left. As Tomlin said, he did not blink and made the necessary plays in the waiting moments.
So no doubt, in that perspective, Tomlin had obviously been referring to Trubisky’s late game drive in overtime. Sure, you would have to appreciate Trubisky’s efforts at that moment. That aside, how do you explain his performance in regulation time, which honestly did not seem overly impressive, once you subtract the outstanding play from the Steelers defense?
Mitch Trubisky’s week one Performance for the Steelers
Mitch Trubisky went 21/38 with 194 passing yards and one touchdown with a passer rating of 78.2. Not dismal but not stellar; he had no interceptions, which against the Bengals is a huge positive. Yet, for instance, he only managed to organize one touchdown drive, which occurred in the 2nd quarter, and only managed one scoring drive in the entire 2nd half and one in overtime. The Steelers could have easily lost if it had not been for all of the Bengal’s miscues. The Bengals did more to lose the game than Trubisky did to win it.
The 194 passing yards was the lowest opening output from a quarterback since Charlie batch in 2006. If you count the pre-Ben Roethlisberger era, it was the second lowest opening day passing total since an opening day loss to the New York Giants in 1968 by quarterback Kent Nix. The last time a Steelers quarterback threw for at least 194 yards but not exceeding 196 yards on opening day and won was Bill Dudley in 1947.
Trubisksy fished the game 21/38 giving him a 55.2 pass competition percentage. The last Pittsburgh quarterback to finish an opening day game with a pass completion rating that low was Terry Bradshaw in 1976 against the Raiders. The last quarterback to have an opening day passing rating as low as 78.2 was Tommy Maddox in 2004. In that season, whom did they have on the bench? Some guy named Ben Roethlisberger, you might want to google him. Could this be another case of history repeating itself? Well, in Trubisky’s defense, at least he was not off selling insurance when the Steelers came calling.
The point is sure the Steelers won the game, but his game totals are not overly impressive. When your best comparison is Tommy Maddox or Bill Dudley, that is not a good omen. As we all know, the Steelers rarely play their best football in September, so if Trubisky has an off game and still manages the win, perhaps now rather than later. Still, there are more than a few things to be worried about going forward.
Where Mitch Trubisky takes the Steelers after week 1
Give props to Trubisky for at least doing what he had to win the game. Yet the season does not get any easier going forward. Sure it could be opening day jitters or working on shaking off all the rust, since starting quarterbacks have limited playing time in the pre-season games. Still, based on what he showed fans today, he has a long way to go. Perhaps Trubisky can post another similar performance and knock off the Patriots or even the Browns in week three or the Jets in week four. However, I think the honeymoon for Trubisky will be over at that point.
Following week four is where the problems begin for the Steelers. They then play the Bills, Jets, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Eagles, and Saints. If Trubisky’s play does not improve significantly, the Steelers could easily be 4-5 in that stretch, if not worse. Suppose the injury to Najee is worse than hoped, and that offensive line does not improve as the year progresses. In that case, it could be a long year for Trubisky, we could see Pickett sooner rather than later, and Trubisky could be out selling insurance once the 2022 season is over.
Do we want Trubisky to fail? No one truly wants him to lose; we all want to see the Steelers win. Yet, the fact remains that Trubisky did not have a great performance today, either. It’s hard to say exactly how this plays out in the following weeks, but based on what we saw this week, things could get eerily similar to 2004.