The Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 21-18. The saying goes “a win is a win”, but the Steelers have a lot of concerns. The offense looked horrible, the defense looked great and if they played almost any other team, they probably would’ve lost.
The entire offense (except for Antonio Brown):
Wasn’t this offense supposed to be explosive? Weren’t they supposed to score 30 points every game? Wasn’t this supposed to be the offense of a Super Bowl contender? They looked like they were just introduced to the game of American football at 9:00 AM the day of the game. They had 35 yards rushing the entire game. The first four series ended in punts. They didn’t have a first down in the entire first quarter. This is what happens when the first team offense plays only 15 snaps all preseason. They looked horribly out of sync.
Bell had 10 rushes for 32 yards and 3 catches for 15 yards. Those numbers are waaay below average for Bell. What happened? Was it the fact that he held out of training camp and reported to the team 9 days ago? Was is the entire offense looking horrible and out of sync? Was it the play calling? Penalties? Was it Cleveland’s defense doing everything to stop the run?
Not exactly a great debut with JuJu. He had 0 catches and more importantly had 2 penalties for holding, negating big plays.
Criticizing the offensive coordinator is one of the favorite pastimes of Pittsburghers, right behind going to Kennywood and using a lawn chair to save a parking spot. However, the play calling in this game was atrocious. It seemed like every play in the beginning of the game was a screen pass. You have two great deep threats in Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, and you throw screens and short passes?!
Bryant has a lot to prove after missing all of 2016 due to suspension for drug use. He looked rusty in the preseason and didn’t look good in this game either. He snagged 2 catches on 6 targets for 14 yards. The entire offense looked rusty, but he has over a year of rust to knock off.
The Browns’ first drive ended in a blocked punt that the Steelers recovered for a touchdown. When you win by 3, it doesn’t get any bigger than that!
Vance who? When the Steelers traded for tight end Vance McDonald , coach Tomlin said the existing group of tight ends weren’t ‘varsity’ enough. It doesn’t get much more insulting than that. McDonald barely played today, but James had a great game. He had 6 receptions for 41 yards on 8 targets. Oh, and he also had 2 touchdowns. It’s obvious Ben Roethlisberger is very comfortable with James so it remains to be seen how much James and McDonald play.
Brown almost single-handedly saved the offense. He caught 11 passes for 182 yards on 11 targets. When the whole offense looked out of sync and lifeless, Brown kept making one big play after the other. He was in midseason form.
You couldn’t have asked for a better first game for a player. Watt had 2 sacks, 7 tackles and an interception. He played most of the game on the right side while James Harrison didn’t play much.
Chickillo got the start at the other outside linebacker spot because Bud Dupree was inactive with a shoulder injury. Chickillo had a very good game. He recorded 2 sacks, 6 tackles and recovering the blocked punt in the end zone.
The Steelers were very good against the run today, only giving up 57 yards total. The line provided pressure all day with Cameron Heyward and Javon Hargrave each getting a sack. Tyson Alualu had a good game and might have to play more than expected since Stephon Tuitt left the game with a biceps injury, which may be serious.
Photo Credits: Behind the Steel Curtain
Lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan here.