Mitch Trubisky landed the starting role, and now it’s his job to win it

It became clear as training camp and the preseason progressed that the Steelers’ starting quarterback position would be filled by Mitch Trubisky. Head coach Mike Tomlin trusted his leadership, his veteran status and his ability; all Trubisky had to do in the early going was play well enough not to lose the job. And while the Pittsburgh Steelers walked (or perhaps limped) away from Cincinnati with a win, something else has become clear: It’s time for Trubisky to play well enough win the job he has.

To be clear, he didn’t do anything wrong in the season opener against the Bengals. There were no turnovers, no egregious mistakes, nothing that put the team in a position to lose the game. Playing behind that offensive line would be a tall task for any quarterback, and Trubisky was able to hold on to the football. But is that enough? The Steelers defense forced five turnovers, and the offense was only able to muster one touchdown, a 1-yard pass from Trubisky to running back Najee Harris:

With the exception of this pass to seal the game, Trubisky looked hesitant and uncertain for much of the afternoon, overthinking his decisions in the pocket:


He also overthrew targets:

It’s worth mentioning that on the pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth, the Bengals were offside. It was a free play for the Steelers no matter how it ended, so the stakes weren’t nearly as high. He knew he had options and no risk of a turnover.

I’m going to reiterate: Trubisky wasn’t bad. He did nothing to lose this game, and he didn’t play poorly enough to be pulled from action. But scoring only 23 points in a game where the defense (which accounted for one of the two touchdowns) intercepted the ball four times and forced one fumble … that just isn’t the type of play that’s going to carry them through the remaining 16 games. And Trubisky knows it. When asked about the offense in Week 1, he responded: “We’re looking to get better. … There’s a lot we can improve on, specifically third down. Just overall execution, so I like the calls. … We just gotta go out and execute more to stay on the field and keep our defense off the field.”

The offense needs to start contributing across the board — that includes touchdowns and clock management. They need to hold on to the ball, and it starts with Trubisky. Play-calling, decision making and execution — it all needs to be better.

If there is another level for Trubisky to hit, he needs to tap into it. It isn’t going to be enough for him to simply play at an average level, because in this cutthroat division, playing not to lose isn’t going to get the Steelers or him anywhere, not with Kenny Pickett in the wings. Trubisky knows he’s going to have to start producing like a starting quarterback. It’s time for him to prove he has what it takes.


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Story originally appeared on Steelers Wire