Even though he had his struggles on the field, which ultimately led to his benching at halftime of the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky was highlighted as the Steelers’ highest-graded free agent signing in 2022 by Pro Football Focus Tuesday — not offensive lineman James Daniels.
In a piece highlighting the highest-graded free agent signing for each team in the AFC North from PFF’s Lauren Gray, Trubisky got the nod due to his 76.6 PFF grade over guys like Daniels and center Mason Cole, who came in at 66.9 and 67.1 overall, respectively.
“There was hope that he could turn things around in Pittsburgh — and he seemed to get off to a good start. He earned the starting job ahead of first-round pick Kenny Pickett and helmed the offense for the first four games. In that time, Trubisky tied his career best in passing grade (69.5; 12th) and threw just two picks (tied fourth fewest) against three turnover-worthy plays (tied fifth fewest),” Gray writes regarding Trubisky being the Steelers’ highest-graded free agency signing from last offseason. “But then again, the offense struggled in front of him. Trubisky ranked second to last in passing yards (653). He made seven big-time throws (tied fourth) but threw just two touchdowns (last). He placed last in first downs (35), last in yards per attempt (5.6) and last in adjusted completion rate (65.7%).
“Trubisky did not have a single 300-plus-yard game. He may have finished 2022 with a career-best passing grade (74.0), but convincing coaches that he is anything other than a bridge option at this stage of his career will be a tall task.”
When it comes to Trubisky’s play on the field in 2022, Pro Football Focus’ grades didn’t quite line up with reality, especially early in the season. While he certainly showed some flashes against the likes of the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers late in the season in spot duty, he was far too inconsistent early in the year, which led to major struggles offensively.
Of course, he was let down by some key drops, but overall there just wasn’t that feel that the offense had under rookie Kenny Pickett when Trubisky was on the field. Trubisky did take more shots downfield though in limited action, leading the league at one point in attempts thrown 20+ yards down the field. The issue was they weren’t connecting, and with an offense already hamstrung by a simplistic scheme, it made it all that much harder to move the football.
Ultimately, head coach Mike Tomlin believed the offense needed a spark and benched Trubisky at halftime of the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets.
It’s rather surprising that Trubisky’s play earned him a higher grade than Daniels, who was outstanding for the Steelers in 2022, not allowing a single sack on the year, while allowing just 20 total pressures in 686 pass block reps, according to PFF. He was a stalwart of an offensive line that jelled down the stretch and really came into its own.