Good Victory Monday to you Steelers’ fans.
Our beloved Steelers just keep on winning with defense and just enough offense and I find it incredibly entertaining. 8-5 after a 1-4 start? Three wins using a third-string quarterback? I honestly don’t know how anyone can’t be impressed by this team. Anyway, I usually offer up my thoughts on all facets of the game in this space each Monday so without further ado….
-“Just don’t kill us.” That’s what Mike Tomlin wanted from Devlin “Duck” Hodges and that’s what he’s getting. Mind you, this is still an undrafted free agent rookie out there and he’s made mistakes but he’s managing the game and he’s not killing the team’s chances for victory. He’s now the first UDFA rookie in NFL history to win his first three starts.
-What a day for Diontae Johnson. Six catches for 60 yards and a score. One rush for 16 yards and an 85-yard punt return TD. Have a day rook!
-The running game by committee approach appears to be doing just enough. 140 total yards on the ground yesterday despite not a single player going over 41 individually. Even more impressive is that those yards largely came against stacked boxes.
-People need to stop with this recent anointment of Benny Snell as “the guy to replace James Conner.” Snell has played well the last three weeks (his fumble yesterday notwithstanding), but he isn’t Conner. For as many issues I have with Conner staying healthy he is still a much more dangerous running back. He blocks better, can run between the tackles and outside and he’s a much better receiver. Snell has a bright NFL future but he’s limited in what he can do.
-Granted he left with a concussion, but I was surprised the Steelers didn’t do more to get Vance McDonald involved offensively. The Cards ranked dead last in covering tight ends this year and I thought for sure that would be a point of emphasis. Not the first time I’ve been wrong.
Tweet of the Day… What he said.
Great team win!! Let’s get @heinzfield rocking next Sunday night!!!!!
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) December 9, 2019
-There’s a reason you go and get guys like Joe Haden when you have the opportunity to do so. Two picks including one that sealed the game are reason enough.
-T.J. Watt didn’t record a sack yesterday but he had a huge interception in the end zone to kill a Cards’ scoring chance. That, along with his constant harassment of Kyler Murray should keep in the discussion for defensive player of the year. I don’t know of too many players that go harder than Watt does play in and play out.
-Mark Barron is playing better than he was earlier in the season but there are still issues when he’s in coverage. Better offenses are going to exploit this and that’s a huge concern for me.
-Cam Heyward and Javon Hargrave just keep making important plays don’t they? Obviously I’d love to have Stephon Tuitt playing but I’m really impressed with them as well as Tyson Alualu in terms of limiting the run and pressuring the QB when needed.
-Steve Nelson gave up a couple of catches yesterday but his overall play remains strong. He continues to tackle very well too.
-I think there have to be some serious kudos given to Keith Butler. He’s been a guy that Steeler Nation targeted for a lot of the problems on the defense in recent years but that should never take away on this man’s ability to coach players. Look no further than the development of T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. Since he took that job back over with the departure of Joey Porter, the arrow has been straight up on both of those guys. Not that it wasn’t with Watt, but I think we can all agree that this vast improvement in Dupree didn’t just come out of nowhere.
-Alrighty… Let’s discuss the fake punt. Mike Tomlin took 100% responsibility for the botched fake in which Jordan Berry was lit up like a Christmas tree. Tomlin is being a stand-up coach and is protecting his players and coaching staff. The truth is, Tomlin is actually to blame here. The unit had practiced this fake all week long under the tutelage of gum-chewer extraordinaire Danny Smith. If the unit got the look they planned for, then the call was made by Jordan Dangerfield to run the fake. Tomlin has to step in here as head coach. With a ten-point lead and eight plus minutes to go, there is no way in the wide world of sports a fake should be attempted there. You punt the ball and let your great defense take care of things. It sounds like there was a major failure in communication by the unit but this should have never been an option in that situation and that falls on Smith and Tomlin.
-The Steelers had just seven accepted penalties yesterday but there were two pre-snap penalties that have to stop. Alejandro Villanueva was called for a false start on a crucial drive and then Watt jumped offsides on what was a 3rd and 22 at the time. These are mistakes that just can’t keep happening with such little margin for error.
-Ho hum… Chris Boswell with another perfect day kicking.
-Were you more stunned by Johnson’s punt return TD or the fact there wasn’t a penalty on the play?
-The Steelers now return home for a primetime showdown with Buffalo. A win would elevate the Steelers to the fifth seed while a loss could potentially drop them out of the postseason. I expect a slugfest.
Have a great day Steeler Nation!
QH is presented