Sweeping Statements on the Pittsburgh Steelers through 3 weeks
This week on the Steelers Fix podcast, Jeremy Betz and I discussed sweeping statements for the Steelers through three weeks of the NFL season. If you have not yet listened to our show, make sure you do so by clicking on the player below.
We are going to take a closer look at some of those statements today, determining which statements are most likely to be fixed and which ones are most likely to remain the identity of this team. For the sake of time, we will discuss Jeremy’s offensive takes and my defensive takes. Check out this week’s show for the rest!
Najee Harris is not a modern NFL running back you can build team around.
Harris had some minor technical issues in his game coming out of college, and he has not overcome any of them at the NFL. The difference in talent level between Alabama and an average opponent was quite significant, which made his issues to be of minimal detriment to his team. The NFL has exposed those flaws in his game, and he has not overcome them (we discussed the specifics on both last week’s and this week’s shows). If Harris wants to take the next step in his game and be a difference maker, he needs to drop about 15 pounds, get back to his playing weight during college, and focus on pre-snap awareness. Eddie Faulker needs to step up his game as the running backs coach and help Najee through these issues in his game.
The Steelers passing attack could be Top 10 if George Pickens got a Davante Adams target share.
George Pickens’ major issue in Year 1 was creating separation. In Year 2, he is doing a much better job in that department, but his quarterback is not giving him a consistent target share. For the Steelers to become what they need to be in the passing game, George Pickens needs to get double-digit targets. He is, by far, the most explosive player on this offense, and the unit is simply more efficient when he is getting quality targets. Calvin Austin is proving to be an important piece in the offense, but Jeremy pointed out on our show that Austin received just as many targets as Pickens. Six targets is not enough for Pickens, and the offense is going to continue to suffer until Matt Canada finds a way to get him the ball more often.
Creating turnovers does not override poor fundamentals.
This has been perhaps the defining statement of the secondary this season, and, more specifically, Levi Wallace. Wallace was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to come away with two interceptions this past weekend. However, he played poorly in coverage for the majority of the evening. He still struggles to react quickly on in-breaking routes, and he still struggles to make tackles in the open field. These issues cannot be ignored simply because he came away with two interceptions that required minimal effort on his part.
Get off the soft coverage, and get Joey more playing time!
We saw a little better mixture of coverages on Sunday night, but overall, this defense is still leaning heavily on Mike Tomlin’s soft, bend-but-don’t-break defensive philosophy. If the Steelers want to take their defense to an elite level, they have to play the corners closer to the line and play a more physical brand of football in the secondary. This likely means playing Joey Porter, Jr. more often on the outside. Perhaps he should become the full-time starter opposite Patrick Peterson if Wallace cannot make a quick rebound.
Which sweeping statements about the Steelers are the most concerning to you? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!