When looking back on his first game as the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mitch Trubisky knows that just a few inches here or there on a couple of deep shots down the sideline and it’s a different story for how the Steelers’ offense, including himself, looked on Sunday.
That said, football is a game of inches, and those inches mattered Sunday, resulting in near misses for Trubisky and the Steelers offense.
After hitting on those plays throughout training camp and the preseason, the Steelers came up painfully small in those instances on Sunday in Cincinnati. Knowing how close he came to connecting with a guy like Miles Boykin deep down the left sideline on the second drive of the game, or woefully missing (though he’s calling it a throwaway) to George Pickens down the right sideline, Trubisky stated to reporters Wednesday from inside the Steelers’ UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side that the Steelers need to start hitting those plays to open things up offensively.
“We just gotta hit those. We hit those in practice. We hit a couple in the preseason,” Trubisky said to reporters Wednesday, according to video via Steelers.com. “The one early to Boykin, if we hit that one, I think it opens up a lot of different stuff for us. And maybe it’s a different story on third down or a different feel of how we feel about offense.
“So we’re just gonna continue to take those shots, continue to work the timing in practice. We would like to come up with those big plays.”
It was a good deep ball from Trubisky, who put it right where Boykin would have been without a sly hold from Cincinnati cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, slowing Boykin up just enough to cause the incompletion.
Later in the game the miss to Pickens was more egregious. While I understand Trubisky’s reasoning in calling it a throwaway, fact of the matter is he could have put it where only Pickens could get it, which was inbounds and as far as he could throw it, rather than well out of bounds, not even close to his rookie receiver.
Despite some of the struggles offensively against a two-high look from the Bengals, Trubisky believes the Steelers took enough deep shots to keep Cincinnati’s safeties honest. It’s all about executing now. Of course, it would help if the Steelers targeted the middle of the field past 10 yards to help open up some of the boundary looks.
“I think we took a good amount of balls in the last game. We just gotta hit ’em,” Trubisky stated. “I think if you hit ’em earlier, then that opens up the intermediate and short stuff as well. But yeah, you wanna connect on those and then either they open up more of those or it opens up other routes and it opens up the run game as well.
“Once you hit those, I think you really see where you’re at.”
Hopefully the Steelers do a better job of hitting some of those deep shots on Sunday against the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick. If not, New England will sit in two-high all game long, forcing things to the boundary again while playing with a heavy personnel number in the box, taking away the run game forcing the Steelers to lean on Trubisky again.