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Trubisky, Canada want more shots on offense

Life is full of missed opportunities and chances that were passed upon.

And so it has been the first two weeks of the 2022 season for the offense of the Steelers – at least according to quarterback Mitch Trubisky and offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Correcting those issues will be something the Steelers (1-1) are intent upon doing when they travel to Cleveland Thursday night to take on the Browns (1-1) in another early-season AFC North showdown.

The Steelers' offense has produced just two offensive touchdowns in the team's first two games, a win over the Bengals in Week 1 and a 17-14 loss to the Patriots last Sunday. Both Trubisky and Canada know it falls mainly on them to correct that issue moving forward.

The Steelers talked about producing more splash plays in the offseason and training camp. But two games into the season, they've been MIA.

"I think the missed opportunities, a couple of better decisions from me, and giving our playmakers more of a chance," Trubisky said of the offense's issues. "We're looking to fix that this week. It's a quick turnaround and a great opportunity for us to get on the right track.

"I could take more opportunities down the field where we could get our playmakers the football. I think it's better decision making and just taking those opportunities for sure."

To Trubisky's point, he's averaging just 5.1 yards per pass attempt, which is 32nd in the NFL. Only the Cowboys' Dak Prescott (4.6 yards per attempt) is lower.

As a result, the Steelers are averaging 8.6 yards per reception. Only the Seahawks (8.3) are lower through two games.

For a team with 2021 Pro Bowl player Diontae Johnson, deep threat Chase Claypool and talented rookie George Pickens at the wide receiver position, that's not good enough.

"We're really talented on the outside. We know that," said Canada. "We've got to find ways to get them the ball and get them the ball in space. We know that. They all want the ball."

To the point that Trubisky said players were calling for the ball in the huddle in Sunday's loss to the Patriots.

Both head coach Mike Tomlin and Canada said that's healthy from competitors. And Trubisky doesn't disagree, especially when it comes to getting Pickens more involved.

Through two games, the second-round draft pick has been targeted just six times and has two receptions for 26 yards.

"It's there and we had our opportunities," Trubisky said after looking at the game against the Patriots on film. "I think earlier I can take shots downfield. I think I could look for 14, George, more often. He's doing a great job for us. I've got to get these playmakers the football, whatever routes they're running. I've just got to get them the ball. It just comes down to me making better decisions, being aggressive and putting ourselves in that position."

It's also a fine line to walk to do that and take care of the football.

With the Steelers defense playing well in the first two weeks, allowing just 37 points in the first two games, there's been an onus on Trubisky to take good care of the ball. He's thrown just one interception in the first two games.

But the bottom line is about scoring points and winning games.

"It's a fine line. If we don't win, the answer would be yes," Canada said of taking more chances. "If we do win and we protected the ball, then it's no. We've got to keep building trust with each other where guys are going to be."

And therein might lie some of the early season struggles with the offense. Trubisky signed with the team in the spring to replace Ben Roethlisberger, who retired after 18 seasons with the team. Pickens is a rookie. Tight end Pat Freiermuth and running back Najee Harris are second-year players. Two members of the offensive line, right guard James Daniels and center Mason Cole, are new to the team, as well, while left tackle Dan Moore is a second-year player.

That's one reason that, at least right now, Trubisky is limited in how much he can change plays at the line of scrimmage.

"We're evolving to that, too," Canada said. "We had a guy who played 18 years (and went) to a guy who just got here with a bunch of young players. I think we're slowly building to that. Obviously, we didn't get the result we wanted Sunday and we didn't score enough the week before. So, we're not where we want to be as a team. We have to keep working at that and adding certain things we think will help each week without creating any kind of missed assignments or communication issues.

"Those things are, especially in a game like Sunday with limited possessions, when you don't execute it correctly or we're not on the same page, those plays magnify. It's a balance."

The key is balancing those things out and continuing to progress while also winning games.

Trubisky understands that perhaps he's erred a little too much on the side of caution, and the Steelers need him to be more aggressive.

"I like to throw the ball down the field. Why I haven't given certain looks, especially early in the games, I can't tell you exactly why," Trubisky said. "We're looking for that. I'm looking for that.

"Every quarterback deep down in their heart likes to throw the ball as far as they can down the field and watch their playmakers go up and get the ball. We're looking for that. We've got to look for the right opportunity, right timing. It's just having an aggressive mindset and coming down with those plays. We want to throw the ball down the yard, but we've got to be smart about it. It's all about completing it."