Just a week after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense looked competent under new play-calling, they took a step back in Week 13. The weather and poor field conditions played a role, but the offense couldn’t establish a similar rhythm that they did in the week prior. The Steelers actually outgained the Arizona Cardinals in total yards (317 to 282). Quarterback Kenny Pickett went down with an injury however, which forced Mitch Trubisky to come into the contest.
Shortly after the game, it was reported that Pickett would miss extended time with a high ankle sprain. While he had surgery to accelerate the recovery process, he is still expected to be out for a few games. With that, Trubisky will be the team’s starter for the foreseeable future. It will be his first start of the season on Thursday Night Football against the New England Patriots. Steelers interim Offensive Coordinator Eddie Faulkner spoke to the media on Tuesday and via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he admitted that there wouldn’t be much change with Trubisky.
Faulkner said not much will change with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.
— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) December 5, 2023
Shortly thereafter though, he did admit that the team would probably take more deep shots to their stud wideouts. Pickett has been heavily criticized for his inability to use the middle of the field in 2023. Time will tell if that has been due to a schematic issue, or Pickett’s overall deficiencies. We will get a good idea of that over the next few weeks with the veteran now under center. In 2023, the Steelers’ passing offense ranks just 31st in the NFL with 2,343 yards on the season.
Their eight passing touchdowns is also second-worst across the 32 NFL teams. In other words, there can’t be much of a downgrade going from Pickett to Trubisky. As for what Faulkner later referred to, there have been flashes of downfield passing recently, specifically when wideout George Pickens hauled in a 38-yard catch on the third play from scrimmage in Week 13. Unfortunately, Pickett and the offense weren’t able to replicate any sort of big play success for the remainder of the game.
Will The Steelers’ Passing Offense Improve With Trubisky?
Against a lowly defense like the Cardinals, that was quite disappointing. The Steelers’ passing offense is tied-for-22nd in the NFL in plays over 40 yards in 2023. Moreover, they are 27th in passing plays of over 20 yards. The arm talent is there with Trubisky, arguably better than Pickett’s. Now, he will turn the ball over more than his counterpart, however. In seven appearances in 2022, the seven-year veteran threw five interceptions.
When he had to finish out the Jacksonville Jaguars contest earlier this season, Trubisky threw two interceptions. Pickett turned the ball over a lot in his first few starts in 2022, but he’s been able to clean that up since. In 2023, Pickett has thrown just four interceptions on 324 pass attempts. In fact, he hasn’t thrown one since Week 4, and it continues to be a primary strength of his game.
Ahead of Week 14, Trubisky talked about how he wants to be aggressive to help improve this offense. That could very well start with pushing the ball down field more, something the unit has lacked in 2023. To start, that will mean taking more deep shots to Pickens as Faulkner discussed with media on Tuesday. We should get a glimpse of how that looks on Thursday evening against another lowly team in the Patriots.
Are you confident that the team will be able to push the ball down the field better with Trubisky at quarterback?