Steelers preseason game number two: what’s to like and what’s to worry about


Aug 12, 2013; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones (3) participates during training camp drills at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike last week’s effort against the Giants, this week’s game against the Redskins won’t be summed up in one word. Much like Landry Jones, pictured above, there was good and bad about the Steelers tonight.

The Good:
Steelers first team defense played well overall. Nice play by Jarvis Jones to breakup the pitch to RB Darrel Young and force a turnover. Combined with how poorly Jason Worilds has played, I think Jones has solidified his starting spot on opening day.

The Bad:
The non existence of Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward continues. Heyward didn’t see much action which could be a telling sign and Hood’s name wasn’t called once. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, it’s about time we are honest about these two: they’re busts and should be jettisoned after this season.

The Good:
Nice to see Lamar Woodley show some power on his sack. He had his way with Tyler Polumbus for most of the night and looks to finally be in shape. Shamarko Thomas also had some nice pop, causing a fumble with his hit on RB Chris Thompson. Thomas should be the third safety by the end of preseason.

The Bad:
No pressure from anyone else. The worries at CB continue. William Gay needs to go, he was beaten badly by Leonard Hankerson on the ‘Skins second TD. Veteran or not, he has to go. Problem is nobody else has stepped up, although the team is high on Josh Victorian and Delvin Smith had a nice INT, so there could be hope.

The Good:
Emmanuel Sanders made some nice catches in the first half, stretching his body. It’s clear he’s playing for a new contract from someone other than Pittsburgh. Derek Moye had a few nice grabs, including the TD. Wheaton continues to display good speed, but a bad decision in the 4th quater to reverse his field rather than turn it up.

The Bad:
Not much out of Antonio Brown. Other than Moye, none of the other young WRs made much of an impression. Someone has to emerge from the TE spot.

Offensive Observations:

  • The offensive line right now is garbage. Absolute garbage. How any honest fan can find anything positive to say about this group would amaze me. Bad penalties, no movement on short yardage, shoddy pass protection, this is as bad of a group as we’ve ever had. Redskins DE Ryan Kerrigan owned T Marcus Gilbert all night. If Jack Bicknell Jr can’t get this group together, he won’t last the season as OL coach.
  • I’m beginning to think I was a little too quick to jump on the Le’veon Bell bandwagon. I know he’s played well in camp, but the nagging injuries worry me. Before he left the game I felt he ran tentatively which a lead back cannot do. Unless he proves to be more durable, I don’t see him starting week 1.
  • Jonathan Dwyer did well with his opportunities, but like the entire team, he had his ups and downs, his fumble killed a decent drive. I now think Dwyer has done enough to stay on the roster, at the expense of Baron Batch.
  • Nice to see Ben being Ben, making plays out of nothing, but unless the OL gets its act together, he may find himself running for his life and risking injury. Gradkowski looked decent, he’s a huge upgrade over both Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich.
  • The first team offense looked confused and lost at times. I know it’s preseason, but c’mon. Right now, this is NOT a playoff offense.
  • Landry Jones had the most frustrating evening of all, which is saying something. I don’t understand the play calling on his first series, the team ran the ball on all four plays (the fourth was due to another penalty). At least on his next series he was able to toss the ball around,later in the game hooking up with Moye on a nice TD. Jones showed good mobility in the pocket, moving up to avoid the rush, showed good arm strength on the deep ball to Wheaton. Jones made some bad throws as well and the second team OL didn’t give him much time. He’s still a work in progress, but with the veteran Gradkowski ahead of him, I think he sticks as number three, probably as the inactive QB for most games.

Other Thoughts:

  • With his flowing locks, DB Ross Ventrone looked like Troy Polamalu. Too bad he doesn’t play like him. He did show good hustle on special teams, but was out of position at times on defense.
  • Maybe the team should consider giving veterans OL Brian Waters a call. Even at his age Waters is better than most of the Steelers offensive lineman and can be had at a reasonable price.
  • I felt Jon Gruden had one of the dumbest lines of the night when he said “Emmanuel Sanders needs to be this year’s Hines Ward.” There will only be one Hines Ward, Sanders doesn’t have the frame nor toughness Ward did to be the same type of effective blocker. Truthfully I think Cotchery is a better blocker.
  • Unless the offense comes together, this is not a playoff team. The struggles of the first team offense should be worrisome. Try to sugarcoat it anyway you’d like, this unit has not impressed.

Took my six year old daughter to the Jets-Jaguars preseason game Saturday night. The tickets were free so what the heck. She enjoyed hanging in the parking lot doing our version of a tailgate (chips, soda and chicken) and cheered the home team and booed the Jags. Got some great pics of her as well. She’s liked football almost since birth and likes going to games, in fact she’s bummed she isn’t going with me to the Steelers- Jets game on October 13th. It’s fun explaining the game to her and she knew enough about the Jets to ask “Where’s Tebow? Is he playing for them anymore?” It’s moments like those that I’ll treasure forever.