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What should the Steelers expect from Mitch Trubisky?

Let’s take a look at some of what Mitch Trubisky has shown, both good and bad.

NFL Pro Bowl Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have reportedly made a move on the first day of the legal tampering period for the 2022 NFL season. Signing quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is believed to be the best quarterback of the 2022 free agent class, the Steelers are able to bring in a player without having to give up draft capital to do so. There will be continued breakdown of Trubisky from BTSC’s, we’ll get things started with a basic overview of stats and some basic film. There will be much more thorough breakdowns in the coming days, so make sure you check back!

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.


The Stats Line:

Mitch Trubisky was the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft. The first quarterback off the board following the Cleveland Browns selecting Myles Garrett, he was drafted ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Interestingly enough, Trubisky will be the second player to join the Steelers who was drafted higher than T.J. Watt who was selected at the 30th pick in 2017 as the Steelers had Taco Charlton on the roster in 2021.

Trubisky spent four years with the Chicago Bears before spending 2021 as a back up to Josh Allen in Buffalo. For this exercise, I’m going to focus on Trubisky‘s stats in Chicago as this was where all of his starts came in his career. With a regular season record of 29–21, Trubisky had 1,010 completions on 1,577 attempts in Chicago with a 64% completion percentage and 10,609 yards. Trubisky also had 64 touchdowns to 37 interceptions over his four seasons which equates to a 1.73 TD/INT ratio. Trubisky also added eight rushing touchdowns while in Chicago and had a rushing touchdown while with the Bills.

In 2018, Trubisky had an 11–3 record in Chicago and made the Pro Bowl as the Bears qualified for the playoffs only to suffer a one-point loss on a missed 43-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining. With only 0:48 remaining in the game at one time out, Trubisky moved the Bears into field goal position only to fall to the Eagles. In the game, Trubisky completed 26 passes on 43 attempts for 303 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.

In Trubisky‘s four seasons in Chicago which saw him appear in 51 games, he had 190 rushing attempts for 1,057 yards which equates to 5.6 yards per attempt. Trubisky also had 13 rushes for 24 yards in his spot duty with the Buffalo Bills. Excluding kneel downs, Trubisky‘s career rushes in the regular season stands at 174 attempts for 1,139 yards which equates to a 6.55 yards per attempt.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the numbers, let’s look at a few plays, both good and bad, of the new player in the Steelers quarterback room.


The Film Line:

Mitchell Trubisky started for four years in Chicago, and yet there’s a lot of debate over whether he’s a good quarterback or not. From 2018 to 2020 the Bears record was 25-13 in games he started, and he posted almost a 2-1 TD to interception ratio. Not shabby, not great. Trubisky’s film shows a lot of big time plays, but it also shows a lot of awful plays, and there is a lot of debate over his value and the cause of some of his struggles.

2019 Bears at Lions, 4th quarter, 5:27.

If you’ve watched the Steelers the last 3 seasons, you haven’t seen to many plays like this. Ben Roethlisberger’s missed season and his struggles after his arm injury limited the Steelers deep passing game. Mitchell Trubisky has a good arm, he can hit downfield throws, although not the most consistently.

2019 Bears vs. Cowboys, 4th quarter, 13:28.

Mitchell Trubisky can run too. He’s not a fast runner, but he’s a capable one. This run comes off of an option play where Trubisky is reading the defensive end to the bottom of the screen. When the end goes after the running back, Trubisky keeps the ball and runs for the touchdown.

The Bears ranked in the top ten in both RPO plays and play-action passes. Ben Roethlisberger was forced to run more of those plays in Matt Canada’s offense, but the Steelers were still bottom ten in total numbers of those plays. Trubisky has experience running plays and concepts that Matt Canada’s offense is built on.

But that doesn’t mean it is all good.

2020 Bears at Lions, 4th quarter, 9:23.

Having the experience and physical ability doesn’t always guarantee success. The criticism of Trubisky that matches his film the best is that his decision making is inconsistent. By inconsistent I mean he sometimes makes really bad choices. On this play that shows up with Trubisky reversing course when outside there is only a cornerback, and when he turns back around he not only gives up yards but runs into two interior defenders and they strip the ball.

2020 Bears vs. Jaguars, 3rd quarter, 0:35.

It also shows up here when Trubisky throws to the right side apparently unaware that every defender on the field is heading into that area, and this pass ends up an interception by LB Joe Schobert.

2020 Bears vs. Packers, 3rd quarter, 8:37.

Overall this is the Trubisky the Steelers want to see. He’s a physically gifted quarterback with a knack for making plays and some real clutch plays and drives to close out wins, but the inconsistency that doesn’t let a team rely on him to be the major driver of the offense.


The Point:

The statement of “a physically gifted quarterback with a knack for making plays and some real clutch plays and drives to close out wins, but the inconsistency that doesn’t let a team rely on him to be the major driver of the offense,” sounds a lot like Ben Roethlisberger when he was young. While most would rate rookie Ben Roethlisberger ahead of Mitchell Trubisky at his best, Steelers’ fans have seen the script on how to win with that kind of player when Ben Roethlisberger was young. A great defense, a strong run game and the Steelers with Mitchell Trubisky could make a nice playoff run. If you are relying on Mitchell Trubisky to make consistently smart throws to move the ball, you may have the wrong quarterback. Also, the Steelers will ultimately be the team that sees how much Trubisky’s year in Buffalo possibly added to his development, if at all, as an NFL quarterback.