You’ll forgive me for providing my thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win over the Atlanta Falcons’ so late but the Red Line from Heinz Field only goes so fast ya know….
As you probably know, sitting in the stands and watching the game is a vastly different experience versus watching from the comfort of the living room. Therefore, it’s hard to make the same types of observations and judgments but I’m going to give it a try and will watch some film tomorrow night. Anyway, here are my takeaways from the 17-13 win.
–Alejandro Villanueva is not 100% and it showed. He was routinely beaten on the left edge and on a couple of occasions I could visibly see him in pain with his heavily-wrapped arm held against him. He was beaten by both speed and power and that just cannot happen.
-It was obviously great to see James Conner back on the football field especially on the same field where he played his college ball. He is lighter and quicker than I’ve seen him in some time and his 98 yards rushing were a result of his mobility. Please, please, please keep things in perspective though. Many of his runs were against second and third team guys and his three dropped passes is concerning as well. For today, we can celebrate him playing well in front of the home crowd.
-Josh Dobbs looked much more confident today and made several plays with his feet and that alone gives him an advantage over Landry Jones. However, I’m not ready to place him in the number two spot just yet. Unless Jones cannot go through the rest of the preseason then I believe he is still the primary backup.
-Tight end Jake McGee will not make the roster but he is more than deserving of a slot on the Practice Squad. I was really impressed by his blocking today. His college film is not good in this area but he is definitely making strides.
–L.J. Fort played like a man who does not want to be cut by the Steelers. He had five tackles including one for loss and a pass defensed as well. He was hard to miss on defense today.
-T.J. Watt did not record a sack today after having two last week but he did have four tackles and one for loss. He is relentless and never gives up on plays which makes him very fun to watch from the stands. I am not convinced though that he’s 100% ready to start. He got beat a few times today to the outside and that cannot happen.
-After seeing his main competition Arthur Moats go off last week, Anthony Chickillo made that contest even more competitive with two sacks of his own today.
-Some of you can keep right on defending Ross Cockrell all you want to but he just isn’t as good as you think. While the Steelers played a ton of zone again today, Cockrell was still beaten several times and just doesn’t support the run well enough in my opinion either.
-I am VERY concerned about Javon Hargrave. He was in concussion protocol during the game and this is not the first time in his short career either. I really hope it isn’t serious.
-If Roosevelt Nix isn’t one of your favorite players may I ask why??? He had a blocked punt today right as the first half ended that was spectacular as he drove the blocker deep into the backfield before getting his hand on the punt.
-Hello Trey Williams! Nothing like making it difficult to cut you! What a spectacular punt return for touchdown today. Granted, it was against a lot of second and third teamers but hey, well done!
–Chris Boswell was solid on his two PATs and his field goal today. Jordan Berry was MUCH better punting the ball today too.
I don’t put much stock in the outcome of preseason games and you shouldn’t either. Am I concerned that Atlanta went down the field twice on the Steelers in the first quarter like a hot knife through butter? Ya, a little bit. But I saw lots of vanilla from Keith Butler today. Very basic zone coverages and nothing exotic from what I could see. No James Harrison or Ryan Shazier or Mike Mitchell either.
One thing I really like though is the way the reserves have played the first two weeks. That tells me that this team may finally have better depth. There were solid contributions on both sides of the ball and that’s encouraging.
Photo courtesy: AtlantaFalcons.com
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