Trubisky: Steelers need to stay the course

Stay the course.

That was the message of Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky Wednesday as the team began preparations for its game Sunday at Acrisure Stadium against the New York Jets.

Like Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday, Trubisky feels the Steelers (1-2) are close to an offensive breakout. But it's a game of inches and individual players making plays. And in the early going of this season, the Steelers haven't had some of those things go their way in certain situations.

"It was a good couple of days to rest, recover and get the body and mind back right," Trubisky said as the Steelers returned to practice at the UPMC-Rooney Sports Complex following their 29-17 loss last Thursday night to the Cleveland Browns.

"We talked through a lot of stuff. It really comes down to execution and being more detailed in our work. When the plays are there, which they have been on film, we've just got to make the plays. I feel encouraged after going back and talking through it and looking through it. So, we're motivated to come back, have a great week and put it all together."

To Trubisky's point, it's been a breakdown here or there in each of the team's first three games that has limited the offense.

For example, last week against the Browns, the Steelers clicked in the first half, posting 197 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns and missing a field goal on three of their four first-half possessions prior to getting the ball back with 30 seconds left in the second quarter. They held a 14-13 halftime lead.

The Steelers looked as if they had carried that momentum into the second half, driving into Cleveland territory on the opening possession of the second half. But a well-designed shovel pass to running back Jaylen Warren that went for a 35-yard gain to the Cleveland 15 was called back when right tackle Chuks Okorafor was penalized for being downfield early on the play.

Tomlin was asked Tuesday if it was possible to be downfield early on a quick-developing shovel pass and quipped, "Evidently, yes. Evidently."

Even at that, the Steelers picked up 14 yards on second-and-19 on a pass from Trubisky to Diontae Johnson to make it a manageable third-and-5 after the penalty. But on the ensuing play, rookie wide receiver George Pickens fought through his jam on the outside of slot receiver Chase Claypool so well that he drove his man into Claypool's route, which was supposed to be a quick out to pick up the first down. Claypool ran into the defender as Trubisky threw the timing pass and was penalized for offensive pass interference, forcing the Steelers to punt.

That's what Trubisky is referring to when he talks about timing and execution.

"I think we're still a young group and molding and coming together," Trubisky said. "Whether it's we're not seeing something that's coming together in practice translating to the game or we're just not making them in the game, you've obviously got to make them on Sunday. It's a multitude of things, but we're going to keep working and come together."

The Steelers are 31st in the NFL in total offense, averaging just under 273 yards per game. But they're 19th in scoring, averaging 18.0 points per game as a number of teams have struggled offensively early this season.

And the revamped offensive line, which was supposed to be a work in progress this season, has played better with each passing game. It hasn't been the issue many felt it might be early in this season.

"That gives me a lot of confidence back there," Trubisky said. "We've got to continue to get better in every position group. The offensive line has done a great job. Their chemistry has shown, their communication up front. And they're taking steps week after week. They're going to be the heart and soul of our team. You love to see that as a quarterback."

What everyone would love to see is more touchdowns – Trubisky included.

The Steelers' first-year starter has two touchdown passes and one rushing score in the first three games to go along with a passer rating of 77.7 that ranks 29th in the league. But he's also thrown just one interception.

Tomlin has liked what he's seen in terms of progress from his quarterback.

"In all areas. In decision making, where he's going with the ball, the time in which he's making decisions, the prudent use of mobility, whether it's by schematics or by ad lib, but just generally in all areas," he said.

Now, all that remains is to put together that complete game offensively. The Steelers have done it in spurts, including the entire first half against the Browns.

But that will require shutting out the outside noise and criticism and putting in a strong week of practice and then translating that to Sunday's game.

"Everybody else talking about our offense," Trubisky conceded. "We've got a lot of great players. We've got good calls. (Offensive coordinator) Matt (Canada) has been calling a good game. He's been putting us in spots, we've just got to make the plays for him and this offense. It's just part of the business. People talk when you're not having the success they think you should have or we think we should have. That's part of it. We know what we're capable of. We've just got to block that out and play football and win games."

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