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Invoking Tomlin’s Phrase, Roethlisberger Doesn’t Mind Trubisky’s Aggressive Demeanor: ‘Rather Say Woah Than Sic ‘Em’

Ben Roethlisberger took a page out of Mike Tomlin’s playbook to lend support for Mitch Trubisky following a three-interception performance in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Though Trubisky admitted he was overly aggressive on some of those costly turnovers, Roethlisberger says Trubisky played with the same mentality Tomlin has preached for years.

Here’s what Roethlisberger said on Trubisky during his latest Footbahlin podcast.

“It’s tough,” he said. “You gotta be smart. I’ll use this example. Last week, George Pickens was having some issues on the sideline and they asked Coach T about it. Coach T said, ‘you know what, I’m ok with that. I’d rather say woah than sic ’em.’ Mike’s been saying that for a long time…basically meaning, I’d rather a guy be aggressive and have to tell him woah than a guy be non-aggressive and tell him ‘hey go get ’em.’

“If he’s ok with George freaking out and causing questions in the locker room, he has to be ok with Mitch being aggressive. Because you’d rather say woah than sic ’em. It’s the same sort of thing. If Mitch is being aggressive and trying to take shots and trying to score touchdowns and doing what he can to win the game. Mitch’s going out there saying, ‘I got benched earlier in the year. I’m going to throw this ball around and do what I can to help win this game.'”

As Roethlisberger noted, Tomlin largely defended Pickens’ frustration during the team’s Week 13 win over the Atlanta Falcons, praising Pickens for his competitive attitude and desire to make plays. Here’s what Tomlin said in full last week.

Roethlisberger believes the same applies to Trubisky. It’s a valid critique though comparing a quarterback, who directly controls a win or loss versus a receiver, less significant to that mission, is not apples to apples. A receiver upset he doesn’t want the football versus a quarterback making overly aggressive decisions leading to turnovers in close games aren’t the same thing.

But Trubisky has played to this style all year. Even acting as the starter early in the season, counter to the narrative, he took shots downfield. The issue has been completing them, an area where he struggled over the first month. To his credit, Trubisky moved the offense down the field and some of his risks paid off, two downfield shots complete to George Pickens and another to Diontae Johnson. As Roethlisberger later noted in the podcast, Trubisky’s touchdown to TE Pat Freiermuth was an aggressive play, making it a two-point game with time for the Steelers’ defense to get a stop.

Still, Trubisky was responsible for taking his offense off the field, too, and there’s a different calculation to make in the red zone/red zone fringe as opposed to open field. It’s more precious real estate and turnovers are more costly.

Steelers/Ravens are always close games and Sunday was no exception, the Ravens winning by two. It makes five straight contests the game’s been decided by one possession, the last multi-possession outcome coming at the end of the 2019 season. As center Mason Cole noted postgame, the Steelers took nine points off the board with the two interceptions and Chris Boswell’s blocked field goal. If all of those drives ended in points, there’s a good chance Pittsburgh wins that game.

If Trubisky starts this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, he’ll need to better find that line and balance. To be reeled in a little bit by Tomlin. To say “Woah” and make sure the Steelers take care of the ball. They’ve yet to win a game this season when they don’t.

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