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Not even two games into Mitch Trubisky's tenure as the Steelers' starting quarterback, Pittsburgh faithful began raining chants for Kenny Pickett upon Acrisure Stadium. Big-name predecessor Ben Roethlisberger doesn't think Trubisky deserves the boos, and coach Mike Tomlin is "exercising appropriate patience" with his current starter. But why, you ask? Why, after making such a premium investment in Pickett, are the Steelers still committed to the Trubisky experiment entering Week 3 against the division rival Cleveland Browns on Thursday?

Trubisky, to be clear, hasn't been the sole sore spot on an offense that mustered just 14 points in a Week 2 loss to the Patriots and nearly got outdone by a turnover-happy Bengals team in Week 1. The Steelers' remade O-line is still a work in progress, and featured back Najee Harris has averaged all of 2.9 yards per carry through two games. But statistically and visually, the ex-Bears starter has been thoroughly "bleh." His passer rating (76.1) ranks 29th among active starters, he's completing under 60% of his throws, and he's averaging fewer yards per attempt (5.1) than literally every other first-string QB in the NFL.

That last feat is probably the greatest indication yet that, while QB is an issue, the Steelers have an equally pressing concern at offensive coordinator, where second-year man Matt Canada has dialed up one of the league's most conservative, short-area attacks. Canada and Roethlisberger, of course, also played it notoriously safe in last year's 9-7-1 finish.

Mitch Trubisky
PIT • QB • #10
CMP%59.2
YDs362
TD2
INT1
YD/Att5.1
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As for Trubisky, whose athleticism was often overshadowed by ill-timed decisions in Chicago, it's very possible Canada's system is protecting the QB from himself. But that brings us back to square one, indicting Trubisky as a low-ceiling signal-caller. There are other issues, to be sure: why isn't Canada more frequently utilizing Trubisky's legs, one of the QB's best physical tools? Why is there not more effort to creatively get the ball in the hands of play-makers like Diontae Johnson and George Pickens? But perhaps Canada and Co. do not trust Trubisky enough to turn him loose in any fashion. In which case we are back to the real square one: why haven't the Steelers already made the switch to Pickett? Is the rookie really that unprepared?

The truth lies in the past, says Demetri George, former PFF and SB Nation Steelers analyst, specifically in Mike Tomlin's summer comments about Trubisky offering actual NFL experience.

"The Steelers have a new center, a new right guard, a rookie wide receiver," George explains. "Generally the offense is young. So Mike's thought is, let's provide some stability -- early on, at least -- with a veteran, regardless of the outside opinions. Mike Tomlin sees this team as a team that has a chance to win some games. Regardless of what we think, there's a belief in Tomlin and inside the building that this offense will eventually be a lot further along than it is right now."

You'd hope so. In theory, it makes sense that the Steelers would rather enter the season with the option to bench Trubisky for Pickett, their handpicked future, rather than the other way around. But for all the perceived benefits of Trubisky's experience, his five-year NFL career also gives us a good idea of the player he is and, more importantly, is not.

Pickett, on the other hand, is a fresh arm and mind. His built-in hometown connection, as a Pittsburgh product, is fun. But even more enticing is the veteran-esque poise he displayed in college and this preseason, when he stood tall against pressure and showcased the qualities of a steady point guard at the position. Considered more steady than stunning as a prospect, Pickett might be exactly what the Steelers need, and what Tomlin is looking for. The coach notably deemed the rookie "Steady Eddie" after his first training camp, touting his ability to shrug off poor surroundings -- like, say, his own team's offensive philosophy?

Now, after a pair of Trubisky performances that were at best unspectacular and at worst unreliable, the pressure is on Tomlin to decide when "veteran experience" must be shelved for "actual results," let alone that long-term upside. George suspects the coach is still convinced Trubisky deserves "more time to gel with the line, the play-caller, the receivers." As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, the Steelers also have a history of starting slow offensively under Tomlin.

That's precisely why Week 3's Thursday night matchup with the Browns is so important. Tomlin is traditionally more patient than most in this business, and an in-season offensive coordinator change would be a break from the tradition under former general manager Kevin Colbert. Assuming Canada is safe through 2022, then Trubisky could have a lot riding on the way he performs against Cleveland in prime time, with the Steelers positioned to actually lead the muddled AFC North.

All of Tomlin's indications suggest Trubisky can survive another middling game or two. Then again, Tomlin hasn't faced a QB decision with such long-term implications before. And he'll have plenty of time to change his mind after Thursday, when the Steelers get a long break leading into a seemingly winnable home game against the Jets -- a home game at which, no doubt, the fans will be loud and clear about which QB they'd prefer under center.