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2022 South Side Questions: Can Offense Attack Vertically More Effectively With Trubisky?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Can the Steelers’ offense attack the field vertically more opportunistically and effectively with Mitch Trubisky?

One of the hallmarks of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense at its height in the mid-10s was the ability to push the ball down the field and shorten drives through chunk plays. That hasn’t been a (successful) feature of the offense for years. Could it be under Mitch Trubisky?

While the team’s new starting quarterback did have a good number of throws down the field during Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals—in which the offense put up 16 points, including a game-winning field goal at the 70-minute mark—those numbers do deserve some context.

For starters, a good helping of them came very late in the game. Indeed, in overtime. So if the Steelers had lost (or won) in regulation, we would be having a different conversation about the lack of deep pass attempts. In other words, there weren’t a lot in the first 60 minutes, and thus not a feature of the offense.

Trubisky talked about needing to be better pushing the ball down the field, and that’s certainly true. I think the deep attempt that he had in Miles Boykin’s direction probably could have hit if Boykin didn’t slow up for half a step at around midfield, which certainly would have been nice.

The late completions do Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth were encouraging, though the latter was basically a scramble drill. The earlier deep completion to Freiermuth was a gadget play, which, again, is nice, but not really in the purview of the current topic, which is establishing the traditional deep ball as a fundamentally valuable element of the offense.

It’s dangerous to draw broad conclusions from one game, and so I’m not going to. But I think whether or not the Steelers can get this going in their offense is one of the biggest questions that they face this season, which is why I’m making it the subject of conversation today. We won’t know the answer until we see more games, of course, but it’s an important topic.

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