Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Saturday night marked the first preseason contest for the Steelers and was it ever a rough start for our beloved Black & Gold. First preseason games are always rough around the edges (ok more like rough throughout) but the Steelers seemed to carry over some of the bad mojo that helped secure their season at 8-8 in 2012. There was very little good, quite a bit of bad, and way too much ugly for my tastes. It’s early yet, and the players have lots to learn and prove yet over the next
As you’ll see in ‘The Bad,’ LB Jason Worilds had a pretty bad night. Rookie Jarvis Jones had a pretty ok evening. He never really put heavy pressure on a quarterback, but he broke up a few plays, knocked a guy flat on his butt, and showed off his quickness when he recovered a fumble. Should this trend continue, there is without a doubt in my mind that Jarvis Jones will start at OLB opposite of LaMarr Woodley come Week 1.
LaRod Stephens-Howling made ‘The Good’ list with an impressive 7 carries for 40 yards. Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Le’Veon Bell had some knee soreness going into the game, so head coach Mike Tomlin sat out the rookie in what was a much anticipated start. Though that can be seen as a ‘bad’ having Bell sidelined, another running back turned lemons into lemonade with his performance. LaRod Stephens-Howling, a free agent pickup from the Arizona Cardinals, had a very good evening. Signed with the intent of being the offense’s third down back, Stephens-Howling got the nod from Tomlin soon after he decided to sit Bell. The fifth year man originally from Pitt felt right at home back on Heinz Field. He ran for 40 yards on seven carries (a 5.7 yard avg.). “The Hyphen’s” success also showed that there is promise in the zone blocking scheme put into effect by offensive coordinator Todd Haley and O-line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr.
One other thing that looked good from Saturday night’s contest was the majority of the 2nd team defense. They showed surprising quickness to the ball, and even though they were facing a 2nd and 3rd (and 4th) string team at times, they held the Giants offense to only three points in the second half.
Some of the other staff writers here at NPC have been throwing caution to what Cortez Allen’s injury and surgery could mean for the Steelers secondary. Those fears were not put to rest, but instead flamed by the performance of Will Willie William Gay. Gay started in the left side opposite Ike Taylor and lined up against Victor Cruz. During the only offensive touchdown of the evening Cruz burned Gay for a 57 yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning. This bordered ‘ugly,’ and the only thing saving Gay from it being ugly was that he should have had help from Troy Polamalu and never got it. Even so, Gay was flat footed and was toast from the beginning. This does not bode well for the Steelers, who over the last several seasons, are known to refrain from giving up a big play like that.
As stated in ‘The Good,’ Jason Worilds had a bad bad night. Worilds certainly made a case for benching rather than becoming the heir to James Harrison’s spot in very short order. Worilds two penalties (all in the same drive) got him a tongue lashing from not only Tomlin, but also the usually quiet Dick LeBeau. His roughing the passer was bad and his unnecessary roughness penalty was even worse. For my two cents, those things completely negate the sack he got on 2nd string QB David Carr (and second string linemen) in the second quarter. Worilds has been far from stellar in camp, and more and more eyebrows are being raised when Jones hits the field. I expect this to continue over the next few weeks. Hopefully good will come from this bad.
Brown has posession here and only needs to drag those feet. Doh! Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Lastly, in the ‘bad’ section is Antonio Brown. Brown finished the night with zero catches. Not a big deal since he was out there for a very short period of time, and Ben was moving the ball around to different guys. However, the bad part for me was the incomplete pass in the end zone. Brown failed to put both feet in bounds, which upon replay, looked like he could have put those toes down. Lack of focus? Has he been taking Mike Wallace Pills? What worries me is that this kind of thing is exactly the same kind of stupid stuff that he did last season that got the offense into trouble a few times last season (that could very well make an argument for some losses). He’s the number one receiver, and something like having awareness for where you are on the field (sideline included) should be something a number one receiver can do. Brown said after the game, “We don’t want to reflect too much on last year, but I think we are a lot farther ahead at this point than we were last year.” Perhaps you should do a bit more reflecting…..
Aug 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers punter Drew Butler (9) has his punt blocked by New York Giants defensive end Damontre Moore (79) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Ohhhhh, Danny Smith. Not getting punched by Tomlin on Saturday night is nothing short of a miracle. The special teams play was absolutely awful the entire night, and after David Gilreath fielded a high punt at his own four yard line – which led to a block in the back, which led to backs up against the end zone, which led to Landry Jones’ fumble (we’ll get to that) – I thought Mike Tomlin was going to punch you in the throat while cameras showed the two of you talking on the sideline. Blocked punts, fumbled returns, and poor decision making. No I’m not talking about the entirety 2012. I’m talking about just Saturday night. It’s ugly and they have a long way to go. At least Shaun Suisham went 2 for 2 in the FG department.
Somewhere in New York at about 9:00pm EST on Saturday night Mark Sanchez could be heard laughing hysterically. It’s probably because he was watching the Steelers and Giants face off, and he was witness to the collision between rookie QB Landry Jones and RB Baron Batch. “Hahahaha!!!! I feel ya bro! At least you didn’t butt fumble like me!” Jones has a long way to go and much to prove to a very skeptical Steeler Nation, who thought that the franchise should have waited longer to pick a quarterback in this year’s draft. Jones finished 5 of 9 for 48 yards, but people are going to remember his first snap in competition for a loooooong time.
That’s my Good, Bad, and Ugly. Have any others yourself? Leave’m in the comments section.