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My opinion of their opinion: Breaking down the Steelers PFF scores from Week 5

Several weeks ago I decided to switch up how I report the grades by Pro Football Focus (PFF) because of some of the recent absurdity of their findings. Since it seemed to be the most receptive approach, I decided to make this a weekly thing where I give my opinion of the PFF scores.

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 5 win over the Texans with my grade of PFF at the end.


Offense

Despite the Steelers offense struggling for most of the game, there were some quality scores this week. George Pickens topped the offense with a 90.1 overall score with an 87.2 passing score. Additionally, he brought in a 63.1 rushing score and an impressive 79.4 run blocking score. I personally saw Pickens getting into the action on back-to-back plays to Jaylen Warren, one of which was initially called a penalty and then correctly waved off. Compared to the rest the NFL, Pickens had the sixth best score of any wide receiver.

The second highest score was not what I expected as it came in the form of tight end Connor Heyward with an 81.4 overall score. Heyward had the top run blocking score on the team of 81.3 along with a pass blocking score of 75.1.

As I expected from watching the game, Broderick Jones graded out quite well in his first NFL start. With the third best score on the offense with a 74.8, Jones had a 77.2 run blocking score and 67.0 pass blocking score and was only credited with giving up one quarterback pressure.

Jaylen Warren (70.9) and Kenny Pickett (66.9) filled out the rest of the top five on offense. Credited with giving up one sack, Jaylen Warren‘s pass blocking score plummeted again this week to be a 15.7. It was his running score of 76.8 and passing score of 74.8 which brought him up. As for Pickett, he had a 66.6 passing score and was credited with making three big time throws and no turnover worthy plays.

Coming in at the bottom of the scores was center Mason Cole where I felt his scores being this bad was actually a week late. What brought Cole down to his 46.3 overall score was a 23.8 pass blocking score. I actually expected the lowest score on the offensive line to come from Nate Herbig, but his 66.7 overall score was just ahead of Isaac Seumalo (66.0).


Defense

On the top of the list for the defense was a rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with a 91.3 overall score and a 91.4 coverage score, both marks being the highest in Week 5 of any cornerback. With the Steelers turning to Porter full time late in the game, he should see his 28 snaps increasing after the Steelers come out of the bye week. It was also nice to see Porter with a 75.1 tackling score, a place where he had low marks in the past.

The Steelers had three more players with overall scores in the 80s with Alex Highsmith (86.1), T.J. Watt (84.0), and Elandon Roberts (83.6). Highsmith had the top pass rushing score on the team with an 87.7. Surprisingly, T.J. Watt’s 78.4 pass rushing score was third on the team as Armon Watts had a 78.4 pass rushing score and 77.2 overall grade.

On the other end of things, the Steelers have four players with grades below 50.0 in Levi Wallace (46.7), Montravius Adams (46.6), Patrick Peterson (45.7), and Chandon Sullivan (43.3). With so many of the Steelers cornerbacks at the bottom of the list, it makes the Steelers decision of playing Joey Porter late in the game even more important.


Special Teams

Last week I skipped over special teams, but this week they had some key plays in the game, both good and bad. Topping the list this week despite having a penalty on special teams was Miles Killebrew with a 90.9 in large part due to his blocked punt. Killebrew’s score was the fourth best on special teams this week across the league. Elijah Riley (81.5) and Christian Kuntz (80.6) were two more players who scored above an 80.0. And despite having an average overall score (60.6), Gunner Olszewski had a 37.2 punting score. When it comes to kicker Chris Boswell, he had a 66.5 field goal score which had him top 10 in the NFL this week. Also, his 85.5 field goal score for the season is second in the league only behind Jake Elliott of the Eagles.


Overall

I have to admit, the scores this week fell in line with what I expected for the most part. For offense I expected Pickens, Jones, and Warren to be some of the better scores. I was surprised to see Nate Herbig scored so high. On defense I fully expected Porter, Watt, and Highsmith to be the top three grades which they were. Also, seeing the number of defenders with quality scores was something else I expected, and I expected Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson to not score well. Even the special team scores followed what I thought I saw during the game. For this reason, other than a couple questionable ridiculously low scores in the pass blocking department by both Mason Cole and Jaylen Warren, it almost seems as if PFF is improving as the season goes on.

My grade of this week’s PFF scores: A

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