There was plenty of good and bad in the Steelers first 2014 preseason game. Here are some takeaways from the loss to the Giants.
The first team offense looked pretty sharp with their starting quarterback at the helm…until they got to the redzone. The Steelers are no strangers to redzone problems, but I’m going to blame the vanilla and rather meaningless play calling of the first preseason game. It would have been nice to see an offensive touchdown scored at some point during the night, but we’ll have to be patient.
Dri Archer is dangerous. On the first drive Archer took a Roethlisberger screen pass 46 yards and it looked like he was holding back.
It’s premature to say the starting offensive line will be a bright spot this year, but they played pretty well last night. David DeCastro looks like David DeCastro. The man is a technician and looked to be in top form. Of the two times I watched the game, DeCastro’s performance stood out as the best on the line. I’ll review the offensive line play in more detail in a future article.
Markus Wheaton looked pretty good. He had a 10 yard gain on an end around and caught a Gradkowski pass on a deep post route for a 28 yard gain.
Martavis Bryant needs work. I would expect after reviewing last night’s film, he’ll be the subject of some heavy coaching this week. A muffed punt (why was he even returning?), a dropped pass that resulted in Bryant punching the ground, followed by a fumble by Bryant that killed a potentially game winning drive.
Brad Wing showed off some of that nice hang time, but he also showed how inconsistent he can be. I can’t see him being the Steelers punter this season if he shows more of that.
The first team defense looked pretty good aside from allowing a running back to take a handoff 73 yards for a touchdown. Cam Heyward was pushed off his gap, Lawrence Timmons was egregiously held, and some mistakes and bad angles in the secondary led to the Giants running back finding the endzone. The Steelers were in Nickel run defense. S Mike Mitchell looked like he might have been out of position, and S Will Allen missed the tackle to stop Rashad Jennings. Steve McLendon wasn’t in on the play. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Stephon Tuitt looked ready for primetime. He contained his gaps, he got penetration even while being held, and looked pretty darn good against the Giants starters. It was just the first preseason game, but he should contribute early, and he sure looked the part of a Steelers defensive end.
Jarvis Jones can sack. No really, here’s proof.
Sean Spence made an amazing comeback. He looked solid last night, especially for a guy who many thought might never play football again.
Tauren Poole pulled himself ahead of the other second tier running backs last night with his special teams play. The other backs in that group were unimpressive, though, that’s typically the case.
Lastly, based on the quarterback play last night, let’s collectively pray that Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t miss a game this season. Gradkowski looked very rusty for much of his time under center last night. Landry Jones looked a lot better than he did last year, and he was a victim of the talent around him at times last night, but he still has warts.