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Diontae Johnson tops the Steelers Week 1 offensive Pro Football Focus grades

The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off their 2023 regular season on Sunday, but not at all how they and the fan base hoped things would go. The Steelers offense was held without a first down until almost halftime and only had one score on the day. As for the defense, they gave up scores on each of the first four drives of the game.

But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for the Steelers Week 1 performance. It is their performance just this week and not combined with the preseason. Before going any further, I must give my typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective and merely an opinion. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed and sometimes it causes me to look more at a certain player when looking at things a second time. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense and defense. First up this week is the offense. Included will be the players who played at least one snap and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 63 snaps on offense in Sunday’s game.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

WR Diontae Johnson: 71.4 (27 snaps)
WR Calvin Austin III: 70.5 (35 snaps)
WR Allen Robinson II: 63.3 (56 snaps)
RB Anthony McFarland Jr.: 66.8 (5 snaps)
RB Najee Harris: 64.4 (33 snaps)
 

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

RB Jaylen Warren: 52.1 (25 snaps)
TE Darnell Washington: 50.6 (24 snaps)
C Mason Cole: 49.2 (63 snaps)
G Isaac Seumalo: 40.1 (63 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 33.7 (63 snaps)


Quarterback

QB Kenny Pickett: 52.8 (63 snaps)

To put Kenny Pickett’s score into perspective, it is his second-lowest score of a regular season NFL game in which he played the entire contest. The lowest full game was a 51.9 last season against Philadelphia and his overall lowest score was in his limited total against Tampa Bay before he left due to injury. Pickett had a passing score of 53.4 and had no big time throws and to turn over plays. To say the Steelers young quarterback struggled in the first game of is second season would be an understatement.

Running Backs

RB Anthony McFarland Jr.: 66.8 (5 snaps)
RB Najee Harris: 64.4 (33 snaps)
RB Jaylen Warren: 52.1 (25 snaps)

The Steelers run game was nonexistent on Sunday but mainly because they only had 9 running plays. Najee Harris had a 70.6 rushing score but was brought down by a 39.3 pass blocking score and 54.6 passing score. Anthony McFarland did not have a running score as he had no rushing attempts, but had a 73.9 passing score and 68.5 pass blocking score. Jaylen Warren had the best pass blocking score of the entire offense with an 81.3, but a 49.3 running score along with a 50.3 passing score put him in the bottom five.

Receivers

WR Diontae Johnson: 71.4 (27 snaps)
WR Calvin Austin III: 70.5 (35 snaps)
WR Allen Robinson II: 63.3 (56 snaps)
TE Connor Heyward: 63.0 (17 snaps)

WR Miles Boykin: 56.1 (5 snaps)
WR George Pickens: 55.1 (56 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 53.0 (32 snaps)

TE Darnell Washington: 50.6 (24 snaps)

Diontae Johnson led the way for the Steelers and he only played one play in the second half of the game where he had a 26-yard reception. Calvin Austin landed toward the top of the list and had no rushing score which may surprise some Steelers fans, but the second play of the game was technically a pass. Allen Robinson was another player who wasn’t awful in his Steelers debut, and Connor Heyward was the only other receiver above the 60.0 threshold. Darnell Washington saw his score at the bottom because he only had a 48.3 passing score as he was never targeted in the game.

Offensive Line

OT Broderick Jones: 63.1 (4 snaps)
OT Chuks Okorafor: 60.6 (59 snaps)
G James Daniels: 54.3 (63 snaps)
C Mason Cole: 49.2 (63 snaps)
G Isaac Seumalo: 40.1 (63 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 33.7 (63 snaps)

When the player with the highest PFF score on the offensive line is one who only played the final four offensive snaps in garbage time, it’s not a good thing even though it was the team‘s first-round draft pick. Only Broderick Jones and Chuks Okorafor had scores above 60.0, but Chuks had a run blocking score of 47.1 compared to his 65.7 pass blocking score. Broderick Jones’ score is fairly curious because he was only in the game for pass blocking where we had a 79.8 score but somehow that did not equate to his overall score. James Daniels had the best run blocking score on the team with an 82.1 but was given a team-worst 20.9 pass blocking score as he gave up six pressures. Coming in just a head of Daniels in pass blocking was Dan Moore with a 22.8 and was credited with nine pressures with one being a sack and two being quarterback hits. It was disappointing to see Isaac Seumalo at the bottom of the list as he was given a 38.3 run blocking score of 54.6 pass blocking score. It is very discouraging to see the lowest three grades on the team on offense come from the starting left side of the offensive line including the center.


So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ offensive grades in the comments below.

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