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My opinion of their opinion: Breaking down the Steelers PFF scores from Week 3

Last week I could not bring myself to report the weekly grades by Pro Football Focus (PFF) based on the absurdity of some of their findings. Uncertain how to move forward with things, I decided this week to give my opinion of the PFF scores rather than just simply report them.

As always has to be the case when PFF is mentioned, the disclaimer is these grades are subjective and merely the opinion of those doing the evaluation. While PFF looks at every player on every snap, they are still simply forming an opinion of what they believe that player was supposed to be doing that play in order to determine if they were successful or not.

So here are my overall impressions of the scores from the Steelers week three win over the Raiders with my grade of PFF at the end.


Offense

The highest score on the Steelers offiense this week was given to guard Isaac Seumalo. His 77.8 overall score came from a 81.9 pass blocking grade and a 72.4 run block in grade. During the game, I mentioned how great it was to see Seumalo blocking several yards down the field on running plays and it seemed as if he was finally getting into the swing of things with the Steelers. For this reason, his grade does not surprise me.

The second-highest grade on the office went to Kenny Pickett with a 77.1 overall grade which came from a 72.0 passing grade and his 74.4 running grade. By not throwing any interceptions, Pickett saw his passing grade increase as he was credited with one big-time throw. What he wasn’t credited with was a turnover worthy play which some might argue as Marcus Peters had an easy pick six if he simply caught the pass. But based on Connor Heyward’s team-low 32.3 overall score for the offense, one could assume the near interception was credited to his route. But this play did not seem to count much for Heyward as he still had a passing score of 56.7 but was brought down by run blocking score of 31.6.

Other members of the Steelers who landed in the top five and scores passed my eye test as it was George Pickens (74.6), Pat Freiermuth (73.1), and James Daniels (69.9). Although Daniels missed a key block on the Steelers first third down attempt of the game, it was his pass blocking score of 81.9 which elevated him.

Calvin Austin just missed the top five for offense with a 69.7. The next three players on offense would probably surprise Steelers fans as it was Dan Moore (62.9), Najee Harris (61.4), and Chuks Okorafor (60.3). Believe it or not, I felt these grades were on par for the tackles as they were not a liability but did not do anything particularly outstanding which gave them a grade right around the 60.0 mark. It was the Steelers center that was slightly below the standard as Mason Cole had a 58.9 score but with a large variance between his 16.3 pass blocking and his 70.5 run blocking score.

But Mason Cole was not the lowest pass blocking score. For anyone who’s been following along, you would not be surprised to see that PFF graded Jaylen Warren a 13.7 when it came to pass blocking. I made a comment during the game when others were pointing out the great of a blitz pick up by Warren on the 72 yard touchdown to Calvin Austin in PFF would probably grade that as a losing play because he did not continue with the block even though it wasn’t necessary.

Jaylen Warren completely won that rep as one of the four pass blocks he was credited with on the night, but obviously PFF did not see it that way. According to PFF Warren was credited with allowing two pressures, but that one play in particular was huge for the Steelers. With head coach Mike Tomlin praising Warren’s blitz pickups in his weekly press conference, it seems as if PFF does not fully grasp what is a successful pass blocking play for a running back against a blitz.


Defense

This week, T.J. Watt was credited as being the best defender on the field with his 82.7 overall score with the only player on either side of the ball having a higher score being Davante Adams for the Raiders’ offense.

Where things get very interesting is some of the players who scored close to Watt this week. Keeanu Benton was right behind with an 81.9 overall score based on a 89.0 pass rushing score. Elandon Roberts was also close with an 81.5 on his 17 defensive snaps. Other players scoring above a 75.0 were Patrick Peterson (79.9), Mark Robinson (79.5 on only for snaps), and Alex Highsmith (77.4). Some may see how Highsmith was held to only one tackle, he was credited with four pressures.

Where Steelers fans would probably scratch their head is the next highest score of a 72.2 overall for cornerback Levi Wallace. Wallace had high scores in the run defense (74.4) and tackling (81.1) and still had a 70.2 coverage score. What is interesting with Wallace is that he was credited with only a 57.1 reception percentage against him. While fans notice the eight receptions that were credited to him by PFF, it was the fact that he was targeted 14 times that likely kept his score respectable. Personally, if Wallace’s score is deemed high it would be only slightly high because he did do a decent job even though he was put into some interesting situations that I felt was more a problem with the scheme.

Players who came in the bottom of the list were not surprising to me as most of them did not stand out in a particularly positive way throughout the game. Isaiahh Loudermilk (34.80 had the lowest score on eight snaps while Chandon Sullivan had a 42.2 with 18 snaps. Nick Herbig had a 46.1 overall score on 13 snaps which I’m not sure is entirely accurate but it’s not that he was noticeable on Sunday night in either a good or a bad way. The same could probably be said for Larry Ogunjobi who did not hear his name called often during the game and had a 49.0 overall score.


Special Teams

There’s usually not much when it comes to special team scores so much so that I don’t normally report them. I will say Miles Killebrew (79.6) and Mark Robinson (75.6) both stood out in a good way as they each had two tackles. Also, Pressley Harvin had a 68.6 punting score which landed him sixth overall for Week 3. Chris Boswell pulled in a 79.8 score which landed him third in the NFL this week.


Overall

I felt like the scores this week when it came to the Pittsburgh Steelers made a lot more sense. Seeing the highest score of the game being Davante Adams was to be expected, and seeing some of the players at the top of the Steelers defense matched what I was thinking regardless of Steelers’ Nation’s problems with Levi Wallace. Sometimes when a player lands in the doghouse, others think that they must not have performed well. This could also be said about Dan Moore who, while not having an outstanding game, did not have a bad game much like I thought as well as his PFF score showed. Once again, my biggest gripe comes down to Jaylen Warren‘s pass blocking score which seems to not make sense because the expectation of what PFF has for him to be successful versus what the Steelers want to see him do which is keep his quarterback from getting sacked by picking up blitzers.

My grade of this week’s PFF scores: B+

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