Mitch Trubisky’s Mobility Could Play Key Role In Steelers’ Offense

The Kordell Stewart era in Pittsburgh was an exciting one, to say the least, as “Slash” as he was known by many due to his running capabilities, brought an element to the Steelers offense not seen since the early 80s by Cliff Stoudt. Essentially he was a pioneer for guys like Lamar Jackson and Michael Vick, as his dual-threat game kept defenses on their heels on every snap. His finest season occurred in 2001, when he led the team to a 13-3 record and the AFC Championship game where they fell to Tom Brady and the Patriots 24-17. That season, he piled up the most rushing yards in his career, running for 537 yards, including five games of 50 or more.

In fact, if we dig a little deeper into Stewart’s success running the ball, he actually owns four of the top five single-season statistical outputs by a QB running the football. His 4.52 speed was something defenses had to account for, and other than the occasional Antwaan Randle El gadget plays, I can’t remember a time this was something the Steelers had in their offensive arsenal until now. This was something to be considered two-fold whenever I looked at the time of possession in the majority of their 13 wins that season, and even some of their losses. In each game, they won the time of possession battle, sometimes by a wide margin, with average times in the mid-to-upper 30’s or higher. Why is all of this important? Well enter Mitch Trubisky, who if he starts, will become the most mobile QB the team has had since Vick in 2015 and the aforementioned “Slash”.

Mobility was always one of the strongest elements to Trubisky’s game, as evidenced by his 4.67 speed. Keeping last year out of the equation because he was backing up Josh Allen in Buffalo, if we look at Trubisky’s first four years in Chicago, he went well over 200 yards in two of them, and flirted with 200 in the other two. His banner year was 2018 when he ran for 421 yards, which would already rank him fifth on Pittsburgh’s single-season list for QB rushing yards. He had five games of 50+ yards that year, highlighted by 81 yards in a loss to the Patriots.

Much like Stewart was, Trubisky has been a very erratic passer thus far in his career, and the previously mentioned AFC Title game was no different, where he tossed three costly picks. When his receivers like Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress or Bobby Shaw were blanketed, Stewart often looked to take off running and Trubisky tends to do the same. He doesn’t seem to trust his play-diagnosis and oftentimes stares down receivers, which in-turn leads to turnovers which have haunted him thus far in his short career.

Stewart was flanked by an in-his-prime Hall Of Fame running back in Jerome Bettis, and Trubisky will be flanked by another great runner in Najee Harris. Both also boast impressive talent at the skill positions, as well as tenacious defenses. However, as they say, a “zebra can’t change his stripes,” and running the football seemed to become second nature for Stewart when a play went awry, much like Trubisky’s career has shown thus far.

As they say, history likes to repeat itself, and the proof was in the pudding in 2001 when it came to the success Stewart and the team had, with a ground-and-pound philosophy led by Stewart and Bettis. With the mobile QB that the team and OC Matt Canada have long coveted to fully unleash his full playbook, could a similar philosophy be in-store in 2022? If so the team could very well be in the thick of the playoff mix as they try to control the clock with a move-the-chains type offense, and the team very well could have the second coming of “Slash” on their hands. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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