The Steelers hosted New England last season in Week 2 with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback and lost 17-14. Can they get back on track and secure their eighth win of the season? If they want to, this is how they’ll do it.
1. Secure the middle of the field
This is a copy and paste of last Sunday against Arizona. The Patriots come into the week seventh in the NFL at targets over the middle of the field, and throw it short of the sticks almost as much as anyone in the league. That means that, once again, this off-ball linebacker group will be tested, and they need to step up. Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki are two good receiving tight ends that will be testing this thin unit. If they find success in doing so like the Cardinals just did, that’s going to be a problem.
2. Keep moving George Pickens around
Pickens had four catches for 86 yards on Sunday, and he was utilized in a variety of ways. He lined up in the slot to run shallow crossers, he ran some slants, he caught a deep ball off play action- more of that is needed. Utilize your big athletic freak of a receiver who can catch anything thrown at him. Credit where it’s due to Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan- they haven’t just had Pickens running comebacks to catch back shoulder throws over the last two weeks. Keep moving him around, and keep feeding him. Eventually, he’ll break one open.
3. Don’t baby Mitch Trubisky
The Patriots have the No. 1 defense in the NFL in terms of rush success rate since Week 8, meaning the Steelers can’t be one dimensional and expect to win. Mitch Trubisky can’t have any handcuffs whatsoever. The drop-off from Kenny Pickett to Trubisky is miniscule at best- let him sling it. He made some good throws against Arizona, particularly one to Conor Heyward between the hashes in the end zone that Heyward dropped. If the Steelers allow Trubisky to just play football, they’ll win. If they handcuff him and try to win solely on running the ball and play one-dimensional, they’ll lose their second straight game to a second two-win team.