The Pittsburgh Steelers had back-to-back touchdown drives on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. That should not be groundbreaking, but it nearly is given the team’s offensive struggles thus far in 2022 and in the previous several seasons. The team’s star defensive end Cameron Heyward commented on the offensive success and what it means moving forward.
“I really do think the offense is starting to come together a lot more,” Heyward said when asked about the team’s offensive flashes by his co-host on his ESPN Not Just Football podcast. “I thought Najee [Harris] ran well down hill, Jaylen Warren, I thought the O-line pushed them back. Obviously, though, it only comes down to winning the ballgame.”
After starting the game slow with a punt and missed Boswell kick, the Steelers’ offense came alive. The running back duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren both had their best game in 2022, and rookie receiver George Pickens had an incredible 36-yard catch for the team’s longest offensive play of the season. This culminated in two touchdown drives, as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had an impressive stretch of plays.
However, as Heyward points out, this was not enough in the grand scheme of things. The Steelers’ first half offensive success was short lived, and ultimately limited to two drives. That being said, there are certainly positive takeaways from this brief offensive success, as Heyward goes on to mention.
“There are positives you can take away,” Heyward continued. “There was one play in particular I thought was amazing — they sent a blitz in and Najee flipped a linebacker, and Mitch stayed in the pocket and delivered the ball downfield. I thought it was a great play, great pass protection, Mitch made some really good plays, whether it’s with his feet or his arms.”
The play that Heyward referred to culminated in a 16-yard catch by receiver Diontae Johnson, which helped lead to the team’s second touchdown drive. The block by Harris was undeniably impressive, and speaks to his willingness as a pass protector. This play also featured Trubisky escaping a sack while keeping his eyes downfield and delivering a perfect throw on the run. If one play is to serve as a microcosm of what this offense must improve upon moving forward, it is that one.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada began calling no huddle offense, which was seemingly just the adjustment that needed to be made. Trubisky showed poise and chemistry with his receivers, and the offensive line continued to outperform expectations. While this did not last until the second half, it is indeed something to build off of, as those two drives were arguably the best this offense looked all season.
Trubisky’s performance in the two drives was perhaps overshadowed by the team’s woeful second half on offense. In the two touchdown drives, Trubisky appeared to be more than capable of leading this offense. While the offensive flashes give plenty to smile about, consistency is key, and that’s what will determine how well this offense played moving forward.