The Pittsburgh Steelers have now completed the first quarter of the 2015 season and as part of our tradition, it’s time to a look at just where the Steelers are. I’ll be breaking down and grading the Steelers by Offense, Defense and Special Teams.
Steelers’ Current Record: 2-2, 2nd place in the AFC North. Wins: San Francisco, St. Louis. Losses: New England, Baltimore
The Breakdown: The Steelers trail the 3-0 Bengals in the North but still have two games remaining against them as well as the Browns. They’ll play at Baltimore in week 16. The two losses are damaging because they to AFC opponents. That could bode negatively for them in terms of playoff possibilities.
Major Steelers’ Stories: Injury to Ben Roethlisberger, Kicking problems
Current Grade: B-
The Good: The return of Le’Veon Bell has obviously garnered positive results and it should continue to do so especially when QB Ben Roethlisberger returns. DeAngelo Williams did everything that was asked of him in his two starts and Antonio Brown is well on his way to another super season.
The So-So: The Steelers’ offensive line has had some good moments but they’ve had some bad ones too. The inability to protect for longer than a three-step drop is a problem. Roethlisberger’s quick throws often make the OL look better than it is. Cody Wallace has done admirable work in place of Maurkice Pouncey but lacks consistency.
The Bad: Let me be honest here; the offense through four games has really only clicked in one complete game and that was the home opener versus the Niners. Todd Haley continues to overthink things and nothing could demonstrate that more than his calls in crucial situations against the Ravens. Haley must stop trying to be fancy and must do what works.
Current Grade: C+
The Good: When you consider they played horribly yet only gave up 28 points to New England, things aren’t all that bad. The Pats have since scored 40 on the Bills and over 50 against the Jaguars. Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt are beasts and are stars on the rise. Ryan Shazier proved what he can do but he’s now missed two games and his durability is a huge question mark.
The So-So: The secondary has made positive strides since looking like lost kids in a playground in the season opener. Mike Mitchell has been better and veteran Will Allen has been a very nice surprise this season. The fact that William Gay hasn’t been mentioned very much is a good thing. It means he’s doing well on his side of the field. The other side is still a question mark as is the slot.
The Bad: The lack of defensive line depth is a huge concern for the Steelers. Baltimore’s Justin Forsett recorded almost 3/4 of his rushing yards when Cam Thomas was on the field last week. Don’t be surprised to see him gone sooner rather than later. Cortez Allen is again dealing with a knee issue that has caused him to miss several games.
The Good: The preseason was a disaster for the coverage units of the team but Danny Smith seems to have whipped the team into shape in this area. Rookie punter Jordan Berry has been a nice surprise in terms of his punts inside the 20 which is huge when you have a young defense.
The So-So: No one is crazy about Antonio Brown having to return punts unless he breaks one for a touchdown. We’ve yet to see that this season but we haven’t seen any big mistakes there either. It’s hard to call the kick return ‘bad’ because so many are kicked over the head of Dri Archer but then again, an upgrade is needed.
The Bad: I believe this is where the name ‘Josh Scobee’ comes in right? Scobee is now history in Pittsburgh with the signing of Chris Boswell yesterday. I don’t blame Scobee entirely for the loss to Baltimore but his makes have been as shaky as his misses. Let’s hope young Mr. Boswell gets off to solid start.
The Good: You have to like the fact that Danny Smith has shored up the return team…
The So-So: Coordinators Todd Haley and Keith Butler have both had decent moments and some not quite as good. Butler is hard to judge simply because we have so little to go on. One thing I like is that he seems to be willing to bring pressure where Dick LeBeau had grown weary of it. For Haley, I mentioned a lot above but when you put a 6′ 9″ 300 lb offensive tackle in wide receiver formation I have serious questions about what you’re doing.
The Bad: Mike Tomlin has not had a good start to the season. Some of his personnel decisions have been curious at best and his game management has not improved at all. It doesn’t help either that he’s dropped seven of ten to John Harbaugh.