Steelers’ Mitchell Trubisky looking for ‘killer mindset’ on offense after struggling to capitalize on turnovers

Takeaways came early and often for the Steelers in Week 1, but the points didn’t follow.

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky — a player tasked with helping the Steelers capitalize on turnovers — knows Pittsburgh has to be better when given prime opportunities to score. With T.J. Watt sidelined for the next month, the margin for error is slimmer, and Pittsburgh can’t afford to squander future gifts.

“When your defense is playing that well, and they’re getting turnovers, you just want to take care of the football, but we’ve got to have that killer mindset, that aggressive mentality to really take teams out of the game and just not allow them to keep it close,” Trubisky said Wednesday, via ESPN.

Despite turning the ball over four times in the first half, the Bengals certainly kept things close, entering halftime trailing by just 11 points. Such damage control kept the door open for Joe Burrow to lead a comeback effort, which came a blocked extra-point attempt short of a triumphant victory. Pittsburgh won in overtime, but only after each team’s kicker missed a field goal attempt in the extra period.

Future games won’t end as fortunately for the Steelers — not in today’s NFL. The responsibility falls on the shoulders of Trubisky, who completed 21 of 38 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown but failed to move the ball effectively enough to truly maximize Pittsburgh’s scoring opportunities.

“When our defense gets turnovers, we need to turn those into points,” Trubisky said. “That’s my mindset. And that’s what we’re thinking about when we get the ball taken away, we’ve got to turn it into touchdowns and not just field goals.”

The onus doesn’t fall solely on Trubisky. Pittsburgh struggled to get much of anything going on the ground, handing the ball to Najee Harris 10 times for a paltry 2.3 yards per carry. The offense averaged just 4.4 yards per play, lost the time of possession battle by more than 17 minutes, punted eight times and the Steelers committed eight penalties as a team.

On the bright side, the Steelers didn’t commit any turnovers. They also didn’t take a ton of risks. That could change, starting with Pittsburgh’s Week 2 game against New England.

“With downfield throwing comes the potential of negativity and turning the ball over,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “Environmentally, in the structure of how they function, we did what we thought was appropriate to win the game last week. It has no bearing on how we’re going to function this week.”

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Perhaps offensive coordinator Matt Canada will open things up more against the Patriots, a team that gave up 307 yards of total offense last week against the Dolphins and mustered just seven points. Risks don’t always pay off, though, and with a bridge quarterback in Trubisky, the Steelers’ best chance of victory could still come by staying conservative.

Most importantly, although he wasn’t terrible, Trubisky acknowledged he needs to be better in order for the Steelers to reach their offensive potential.

“I think timing … from my perspective can be better — either getting it out a little sooner or waiting for the plays to develop a little more, just to a lot of guys to be in the right spot at the right time,” he said. “But, overall we just need to execute and make the plays.”

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