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3 realistic changes the Steelers can make before Week 2

The Pittsburgh Steeles were dismantled by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, and many fans and media members are ready to make drastic changes with the lineup, or coaching staff, heading into Week 2.

While changes should occur, the need for them to be drastic and sweeping is not necessary, even after a 30-7 shellacking in front of your home crowd. With that being said, below are three simple, and realistic, changes the Steelers could make which could make a big difference in the way the team performs in prime time vs. the Cleveland Browns in Week 2.

It just so happens all three of these suggestions surround the teams talented rookie class. Let’s get started…

More JPJ

At this point the entire fan base realizes the plan which was put in place vs. San Francisco was not up to par. However, running the same units out there in Week 2 just doesn’t make sense. Instead, the team focusing on their original plan of moving Joey Porter Jr. to the outside and flexing Patrick Peterson in a myriad of positions is something which should happen this week.

I get easing the rookie into his first professional action, but only 7 snaps for one of the more talented defensive backs in this rookie class doesn’t add up. It’s compounded by the lackluster play of Levi Wallace and not allowing Porter Jr. to get some legitimate snaps, even when the game was out of hand.

Get Joey Porter Jr. on the field. He doesn’t have to start, but he should start seeing the field more. And for those who will be fearful of potential rookie mistakes, go back and watch Wallace in Week 1. It can’t be any worse.

Utilize Darnell Washington

Darnell Washington played in Week 1, to the tune of 24 snaps (38% of offensive snaps), but it was more how the offense utilized Washington. When you look at Washington’s blocking ability, see clip below, you want to have him on the field. When you are talking about giving tackles like Dan Moore Jr., Chuks Okorafor or Broderick Jones help, Washington should be your guy.

But utilizing Washington as nothing more than a blocker is simply ignoring all the ways he can impact the game. In other words, the offense becomes unbelievably predictable. The Steelers can utilize Washington in a myriad of ways, one of which is in the passing game.

When the defense loads the box whenever they see Pat Freiermuth and Washington on the field together, hitting Washington a couple times down the seam on play-action could be the magic elixir for the Steelers offense backing off defenses and softening up the box.

Let the “Dancing Bear” work

With Cam Heyward out of the lineup for roughly eight weeks, everyone is wondering who might fill the void left by the team captain. Mike Tomlin said it perfectly when he talked about it being more than a one person job, but if there is a player who is worthy of seeing an uptick in defensive snaps, it’s Keeanu Benton.

The rookie second round pick played 29 snaps (43% of defensive snaps) vs. San Francisco, and he played well when on the field. It’s a tall task to replace Cam Heyward’s experience and ability to absorb massive snaps, but Benton isn’t just a young player, but an ascending player. Let him enter the revolving door along the defensive front.

Using Benton more might also need to be accompanied by promoting Armon Watts and/or Breiden Fehoko to help with nose tackle duties. Nonetheless, Montravius Adams proved he is not the answer at nose tackle after Week 1. Time for the Steelers to be creative, and to let Benton do his thing on game day.

Be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 on Monday Night Football.


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