Random Steelers Observations: Week 2 edition
What a game. The Steelers home victory over the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football had a little bit of everything.
Records were broken or extended, plenty of great plays were made, and more than a few boneheaded ones too. Superstars for both teams were knocked out of the game and had to be taken to the hospital. I saw a player receive two face mask penalties in one game, which is extremely rare, and it turned out to be a quarterback. I have honestly never even heard of that happening.
The game was obviously disjointed, and the first half seemed to last forever. All the aforementioned craziness resulted in zero rhythm for either team, and impacted the quality of the product on the field. As Steelers fans, we can only hope for brighter days on the horizon. I love our Steelers, but this offense hasn’t been very entertaining for a few years now.
That being said, let’s take a look at some of my random observations for Week 2.
- This Steelers offense has been doomed through the first two weeks before the games even started. Facing two of the best front sevens the Steelers will see all season, without any semblance of a game plan capable of backing off a consistent diet of 7 and 8 man fronts. Multiple jet sweeps into an overload just isn’t going to cut it.
- In spite of all that, I think the efforts of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren should be commended. These guys must feel like they are running full speed into a brick wall, only to be asked to get back up and do it again. Rinse and repeat. You have to love the effort being demonstrated. Harris is looking more and more like a first round reach for the Steelers. It has nothing to do with his heart or effort, but it has everything to do with his lack of NFL caliber burst. You just don’t spend a first round selection on a running back that doesn’t have certain special traits. Harris is a quality back, but I just don’t see first round value. Warren is bursting through holes, breaking tackles, and fighting for crucial first downs. Kid was an undrafted free agent. The investment doesn’t match the returns with these two.
- I think it’s admirable that the Steelers players have remained united in trying to deflect blame from Matt Canada, saying they need to execute better. I would expect nothing less from true professionals. However, even novice fans can see that Canada is putting them in too many no win situations with his play calling, which is not NFL caliber. I have never witnessed the national sports media and Steelers focused media as united over one subject. This is a huge week for Canada, because the situation is dire. We have all seen the graphic on Twitter showing the Steelers are the worst offense in the league, by a large margin. Enough is enough. That is simply unacceptable.
- The devastating injury to Nick Chubb was heartbreaking. It made me sick to my stomach, even before seeing the replay. Nick Chubb is the best running back in the NFL. The man is an absolute beast, and a true warrior. If anybody can fully recover from such a horrific injury, he can. He has already done it before. I am pleased that Steelers Nation has been united in our utmost respect for Nick Chubb, both the player and the person. Prayers for a full recovery.
- Calvin Austin III is proving his doubters wrong in a big way this season. He’s still diminutive, but he has a huge heart. Austin is a football player with track speed, not the other way around. He is a competitor in every sense of the word. His blocking abilities belies his stature, through shear effort. Austin has shown solid skills as a route runner, and looks like a splash play waiting to happen. Now he just needs Pickett to have enough time and protection to find him.
- George Pickens is the Steelers WR1. Nobody else on the roster has the ability to dominate a game like he potentially could. Even with the disjointed offense performance Monday night, Pickens was breathtaking. His combination of size, strength, and speed is next level. He should be getting the ball early and often, as he is the biggest weapon in the arsenal. Canada’s shortcomings are severely stunting the Pickett to Pickens connection. Feed the beast.
- The inside linebackers are starting to find their groove. Cole Holcomb has done an excellent job communicating while wearing the green dot, and his aggressive physicality has been a breath of fresh air. Kwon Alexander is a heat seeking missile in the middle of the defense. He has already exceeded my lofty expectations. The Cole & Kwon combination has provided the type of speed and physicality that the Steelers have been missing for far too long. I am very pleased with the Steelers current depth chart at the position.
Now for some quick thought nuggets:
- Elijah Riley really saved the Steelers bacon Monday night. He was forced into action due to injury, and he quietly did his best Minkah Fitzpatrick impersonation. I say quietly because I have seen countless fans asking “Who is number 37?” after the game. Riley displayed impressive closing speed on multiple occasions, a trait that is currently lacking in the Steelers defensive backfield. Riley needs more opportunities on the field with Fitzpatrick, not only when Minkah is out of the game or injured.
- Speaking of guys who need more snaps, Nick Herbig has to be near the top of the list. Sometimes preseason results can be a type of fool’s gold, but Herbig’s explosiveness has definitely carried over. He should have had his first regular season NFL sack, but was dragged down by his face mask. Herbig is the young stud of the best edge depth chart in the NFL. Herbig appears destined to be the Steelers next great edge rusher. He just needs more opportunities.
- Joey Porter Jr is the only Steelers defensive back seemingly capable of playing press coverage at the moment. He is a little handsy at times, which will lead to some penalties, but the talent and effort is unmistakable. I can live with the growing pains, because the end results should be spectacular.
- DeMarvin Leal is quickly becoming a problem for the opposition. He is a disruptor, creating havoc in the interior. Leal appears much stronger and quicker when utilized correctly. Outstanding start to his second season.
- James Pierre needs to see the field. He is an excellent tackler, an area that has plagued the Steelers secondary thus far this season. Added bonus; Pierre played a big role when the Steelers shutdown Davante Adams last season. Let’s see if he can do it again.
- Lastly, I wonder how long it’s going to take for the Steelers to get Desmond King up to speed. The dude’s a veteran, for Pete’s sake. The Steelers sure could benefit from his experience and versatility right about now.
Now is the time, and Las Vegas is the place. Go Steelers! Leave the Black and Silver all black and blue. Just win, Baby.