It’s hard to find fault after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ tight ends collected several clutch receptions which included two touchdowns in the team’s 24-16 win over Cincinnati today. Unfortunately there are some serious problems that still exist at the position.
Let’s talk about the good stuff first though shall we? Tight ends Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson combined for six receptions for 60 yards but more importantly, James and Grimble each had a touchdown reception. Grimble also had a very minor little catch in the box score but it was huge in the grand scheme of things because it was a great catch of a low throw and gave the Steelers’ a first down.
James not only used all of his six and a half feet to grab his touchdown but caught a beauty on the sidelines as well.
Now for the bad news… The Steelers have a serious issue when it comes to blocking on the edges with their tight ends right now. To be fair, I haven’t gone over the tape yet but from what I have on the ol’ DVR James and Grimble both have work to do.
Because James played significantly more snaps, I’ll focus on him. For a guy that holds some of the Penn State weight room records, James’ strength isn’t necessarily impressive. His in-line blocking sees him getting over-powered at the point of attack way too often and at some point I fear for the health of whomever has the ball in the backfield.
When James is on the move at the snap of the ball I think he’s much better but right now his weakness is adding to another problem on the edge which is the inconsistency of Alejandro Villanueva. That’s for another article though.
Grimble is a heavier and seemingly more bullish in-line blocker but he lacks consistency as well.
For a team that has rushed the ball for over 100 yards in their first two games you’d think everything would be just fine in terms of blocking but trust me when I tell you the Steelers are concerned with their tight ends. This isn’t something that Ladarius Green is going to fix either because he isn’t exactly known for his blocking either.
To this point, the Steelers have survived with less than good tight end blocking but unless it gets better teams will target it and issues will only get more significant.
Photo courtesy note.taable.com