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My opinion of their opinion: Breaking down the Steelers PFF scores from Week 9

Earlier this season I decided to switch up how I report the grades by Pro Football Focus (PFF) because of some of the 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 9 win over the Titans with my grade of PFF at the end.


There are some interesting things when it comes to the Steelers offensive PFF grades from Thursday night. What should be noted first is that Jaylen Warren had the highest overall score of anybody on either side of the ball on either team. Warren had a 91.1 overall score with an 88.1 running score, an 83.7 passing score, a 61.0 pass blocking score, and a 60.0 run blocking score. But Warren was only used on five snaps between the two blocking scores. Warren lead the team in passing scores followed by Diontae Johnson (81.7) and Kenny Pickett (77.0). When it came to running scores, Warren was well ahead of Najee Harris who was second with a 63.1 score.

Diontae Johnson had the next highest overall score with an 83.1 thanks to his high passing score that was already mentioned. The third best score on offense was James Daniels with a 79.4 thanks to his team-leading 87.0 pass blocking score and with the second-best run blocking score of 72.7. Isaac Seumalo was the top run blocking score (74.1) which helped give him a 76.0 overall score which was fifth best on the offense.

What I think could divide many Steelers fans is the player with the fourth-best score on the offense in quarterback Kenny Pickett with a 78.2. Many Steeler fans were very critical of Pickett who had several throws which were off target, some of which killed the Steelers drives in the first half. But Pickett threw a touchdown and had no interceptions and had a 77.0 passing score compared to Will Levis who had a 51.8 passing score and a 50.8 overall score for the Titans with his one interception and no touchdowns.

Players who came in at the bottom of the list on offense were Darnell Washington (52.1), George Pickens (47.3), and Connor Heyward (39.5). Heyward’s score was brought down with a 39.5 run blocking score compared to a 50.7 passing score. What doesn’t make sense is the fact that he played 23 passing snaps and only 16 run blocking snaps yet his overall score was identical to the run blocking score. As for Pickens, he had the second lowest passing score of 47.6 which was only higher than Najee Harris at 41.4.

What was nice to see was that no Steelers offensive linemen were towards the bottom of the list, and only one had a score less than the standard 60.0. What is surprising is the player with the lowest score was Broderick Jones with a 58.8 overall based on a 63.2 pass blocking score and a 53.7 run blocking score. As I was re-watching the game at 3 AM last night, I was paying particular attention to Jones who I thought was doing very well on the overwhelming majority of running plays. He was coming off the line on run plays and getting to the second level. In fact, it was his block downfield which helped Najee Harris get into the end zone on his 10-yard touchdown run which would have likely been stopped short were not for his block. So I have to say I disagree on this score.

As for the other linemen, both Dan Moore Jr. and Mason Cole who ended in the 60s. Moore had a 63.5 overall score while Cole had a 60.6 score despite having a 62.8 pass blocking score and a 65.4 run blocking score. Another curious score was Chuks Okorafor having a 60.0 on his single snap on offense which was a running play and then he had a 65.6 run blocking score. How can these two numbers be different if this was all he did?


The Steelers defense had some interesting scores as well as a few anomalies. The top score on the night went to Alex Highsmith with an 80.5 overall grade thanks to his 10 pressures. But even though he led the Steelers in total pressures, Highsmith was only the third-highest pass rushing score of 70.0 behind Kwon Alexander (91.0) and Markus Golden (72.1). Where Highsmith excelled was a 77.2 in run defense. This was his highest score but his overall score was higher than any of the individual parts.

A more curious anomaly comes on one of the three players who were tied for second in overall score on the Steelers defense with a 78.0. One of those players was Montravius Adams who played only two snaps where one was run defense and one was pass defense. Adams individual scores were a 60.0 in both categories yet ended up with a 78.0 overall for the two snaps.

Markus Golden also had a 78.0 overall score and had a situation similar to Highsmith where his highest individual score of 72.1 was not nearly as high as his overall score.

The other player with a 78.0 overall score was Kwon Alexander who saw his individual scores all over the place. Not only did Alexander have the highest pass rushing score, he also had the highest coverage score of 84.2. But a tackling score of 28.5 and run defense score of 38.9 brought Alexander’s overall grade into somewhere in the middle.

Something many Steelers fans won’t want to agree with but I felt was an accurate score came in regards to Levi Wallace who played 38 snaps with 31 coming in coverage. Wallace has was the fifth-highest overall score of 76.0 as he had the third-highest coverage score on the team of 76.3 only behind Alexander and T.J. Watt (79.0). Watt was the next player on the overall list behind Wallace with a 75.3.

The player on the very bottom of the list was DeMarvin Leal with a 47.3 overall on his 24 snaps. What doesn’t seem to make sense is that Leal didn’t have an individual score that was below a 50. Another player where this occurred was the next lowest score of a 50.2 by Darius Rush who played 30 snaps and had a 50.4 coverage score with his other scores coming in higher.

Another player with a score at the bottom was Patrick Peterson’s 50.8 overall score which came courtesy of a 51.1 coverage score despite having a 72.6 run defense score.

While looking at the scores of players in the secondary, I was surprised to see Joey Porter‘s score so low with a 55.8 overall. I wasn’t surprised that he had a 29.6 tackling score or a 55.1 run defense score, but I thought he might have done better than the 65.4 coverage score he was given especially since PFF had him targeted five times and only giving up one reception for 17 yards. What likely brought the score down were the penalties.


I just felt there were a lot of anomalies in this game with overall scores higher than all the individuals and lower than the lowest individual scores. There were six defensive players and four offensive players whose overall scores were higher than any of their individual rankings. On the other end of the spectrum, there were three defensive players and three offensive players whose overall score was lower than all of their individual ranks. This just seems kind of strange and stood out more this week than ever before.

I took exception to Broderick Jones run blocking score mainly because I was specifically watching him when I viewed the replay and definitely would have scored him as being above average. The only other questionable score I saw was Kenny Pickett being graded so high when he missed so many open passes in the first half. It’s not that I thought he would have had a low score, but I didn’t expect the 78.2 overall which was his second-highest score of the year only behind the game against the Rams.

My grade of this week’s PFF scores: C-


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