I don’t know why, but I’m amazed at the number of Steeler fans that are finding the nearest bridge in Pittsburgh and taking a flying leap. Yes we are all upset, things didn’t go as we planned in our minds heading into the season opener. It was supposed to be a redemption game for team and the fans. It wasn’t though and dwelling on the past isn’t going to help. Learn from it, build on it it, and move on because the NFL waits for no one.
My partner here on the site, Marc, recently put up a piece on the Steelers defense so I thought I’d contrast that with some positives for the offense. After all, any positives we can glean might save us from actually taking that final plunge into the Ohio River before the Jets come to town on Sunday.
For a first game with a new Offensive Coordinator, you expect there to be some bumps along the way. We’d have preferred those obstacles not completely get in the way of winning the game ultimately, but hey you can’t have everything and it’s a long season.
No huddle offense: I think we can all be encouraged by the overall success of Big Ben running Haley’s no huddle offense. The best part about it was, they didn’t wait until they were down late in the game to use it. They were running it in the second quarter and throughout the 2nd half of the game. As beat up as the Offensive Line was, Ben was able to get rid of the ball in a good rhythmn. He spread it around to Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller who each finished up with 4 catches a piece. Ben had a good command of the the offense and routinely was able to beat the blitz with quick throws that kept the chains moving.
Speaking of beating the blitz: If you watched Roethlisberger last night, right up until the final drive of the game, he appeared to have a good view of the coverages that the defense was showing. You could see him check out of a play and make adjustments, as well as avoid the rush by rolling out or just a utlizing a quick dump off to one of his running backs, or to Miller. Is he Peyton Manning in this category? No, nobody is, but based on early returns after one game Ben has clearly been working on reading defensive coverages and knowing where his check downs are to avoid the big hit. He’s always going to be Ben, forcing the ball into double coverage at times but that’s what you get with a gun slinger.
Mike Wallace: Tomlin said before the game that Wallace would be a significant amount of time. He finished up with 4 catches for 37 yds and 1 Touchdown. He could have easily doubled that yardage if Ben is able to lead him just a yard or two more on the route where Tracey Porter was with him step for step. Those are the types of things that you work on during training camp, but hey no sense going down that road again.
Wallace will continue to get back to form as the weeks go by, but I think we were all encouraged to see him out there, clearly making the offense better with his presence. Equally important was seeing both Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown being able to help out even in the face of double coverage and helmet to helmet hits. I wasn’t expecting them to fail by any means, but I was interested to see how Ben would spread the ball around now with Wallace back and it’s clear that he’s right on que, finding the open man and making the completion.
Jonathan Dwyer: He was clearly the more effective of the two backs who saw the lions share of the carries in the ground game. The Broncos did a good job of crashing the middle of the Steelers line though, and also in pursuit to the outside, rendering the Steelers rushing attack to basically being a non factor most of the game.
Dwyer though did rush 9 times for 43 yds (4.7 ypc average) and had 2 catches for 11 yds. Those stats might not blow you away but considering the state of the blockers he had in front of him, it wasn’t all that bad. Many feel he should be the starter, but don’t give up on Isaac Redman just yet. Remember this guy earned the right to have a chance to start based on his performance the last 2 seasons. Both guys will continue to see the bulk of the carries this year but JD is clearly making a name for himself and people are noticing.
Heath Miller: What more can you say about him, every time he gets the ball it’s an automatic first down. He’s reliable, tough, and just flat out gets the job done. 4 catches for 50 yds and 1 TD is just a walk in the park for Miller Time. Utlizing his more is hopefully in the repetoire of Todd Haley and if so the Steelers will be a better offense for it.
In my best Chris Collinsworth voice, “lemme just say”….ok sorry, couldn’t resist that one since we all love the former Bengal as a commentator. There are clearly many aspects of the Steelers that need to be improved on both on offense and defense, but there were some bright spots and in the NFL you have to ride out the bumps and take the success in stride. Haley and Tomlin have some positives to build on for the Jets coming to town next week, and beyond.