Call him Mitch. Or Mitchell. Whatever first name you want to use – he apparently doesn’t have a preference – call him one thing.
The next Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback.
While his contract isn’t quite as gaudy as some in the national media speculated about, and that’s very good news, he’s still in the drivers seat to be Pittsburgh’s Week One starter. Trubisky isn’t an unexpected name to the Steelers’ room. He’s been linked for weeks and on a baseline, fundamental level, checks the boxes the team looks for. Mobility, pedigree, and scheme fit.
So who is Trubisky? Where are his strengths and weaknesses? Let’s break down his good and bad.
Mitchell Trubisky – The Good
My bullet point report on him with some analysis and clips to follow.
– Mobility, effective on bootlegs/rollouts, capable and comfortable moving to his left and right
– Accuracy when throwing on the run
– Escapability, ability to extend the play, some use on designed runs (read option, QB power on third and short)
– Flashes good placement into tight windows at deep/medium levels of the field
– Above average arm in terms of strength, improvement over what Steelers already had
– Young with room to grow
– Reportedly, strong locker room presence, hard-worker who doesn’t complain and shows leadership ability
Throughout the entire season, Mike Tomlin gushed over quarterback mobility and lamented the fact the Steelers didn’t have it. In fact, they had just about the least mobile quarterback in football in Ben Roethlisberger. Trubisky is a plus athlete. Not Lamar Jackson, not Kyler Murray, and he doesn’t have the size to shake off would-be tacklers like Josh Allen, but he can run.
Expect bootlegs in this offense. A lot of bootlegs. The five yard boot to the tight end is going to be a staple concept this year. Pat Freiermuth will catch 96 passes for 460 yards.
Here’s just a sampling of it. For the record, these clips from the Bills’ game come from the team’s 2021 preseason game against the Bears. That was truthfully the most action he saw this past year in his time with Buffalo.
He will fit well in Matt Canada’s offense and what he’s looking to accomplish. From a pure “scheme fit” perspective, Trubisky is a cleaner and clearer fit with Canada than what he had in Ben Roethlisberger. Boots/playaction/QB run game. All things that are on the table with Trubisky.
As you’d expect from a former first-round pick, Trubisky has enough overall talent to flash. He can make some tough, sincerely impressive throws to all levels of the field. And his supporting cast didn’t always help him out by finishing the play or taking advantage of the opportunity.
When Trubisky can set his feet and works in a clean pocket, he flashes above average arm strength and the ability to place the ball where it needs to go. While passes can skip and die, he does not often miss high and avoids overthrows and tipped passes that result in interceptions.
So that’s the good. Here’s the bad.
Mitchell Trubisky – The Bad
– Appears to have elongated release, ball drops down on windup
– Streaky accuracy, misses routine throws too often and struggles to hit moving target on crossing routes
– Ball tends to die and passes miss low
– Needs to speed up process and throw with more anticipation, decisions come too late and allow defenders to make plays on the football
– Overall decision-making needs to improve and too careless with the football
– Drifts and bails on the pocket too often, makes OTs job harder and leads to unnecessary pressure and sacks
– Struggles to throw consistently without a clean base and ability to set his feet
– Deep ball accuracy and placement isn’t consistent enough
The bad of Trubisky. There’s more than you’d like. His release does seem long and funky. For some QBs, like Philip Rivers, it didn’t greatly impact their career. For Trubusky, I’m not sure if it’s a primary issue but I wonder if it’s one reason for one of the other negatives, being late with the football and seeing DBs jump routes too often. Examples of that.
His accuracy overall is streaky and he misses too often, especially when trying to hit a moving target. It’s somewhat similar to the issue Josh Dobbs has had earlier in his career, though Dobbs’ deep ball accuracy might have been better. I acknowledge Trubisky’s less-than-ideal supporting cast hurt him at times, but these are clear misses. And his adjusted completion rate in 2020, per NextGen Stats, was 1.3% lower than his actual one (65.7% vs 67% actual).
He too often looked uncomfortable in the pocket and didn’t deal with pressure well. A lot of bailing and drifting in the pocket which only causes more problems. It does not seem to be an area of his strength and he’s been best taking off and running when he feels heat.
Trubisky’s arrival has been rumored and predicted for a couple weeks now, so it takes the edge off the signing, even if you all know I didn’t endorse the move. Trubisky shows nuggets of that first-round talent from five years ago, and from a talent/upside standpoint, is above Mason Rudolph.
But Trubisky has plenty of holes in his game, and Canada will need to heavily restrict him to his style of offense with simple reads/throws and allow him to utilize his athleticism. There are some new and even exciting elements of that he can bring. But I doubt the Steelers can “fix” him any more than most other teams have tried to fix former first-rounders. He is a bridge quarterback, someone who will try to catch lightning in a bottle, as the team still searches for its long-term piece.
Overall, an acceptable signing that will occasionally make you happy and more often, make you look to the future.