Steelers vs. Eagles: Cause for Concern
Let’s be honest, the Steelers played horrible last Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, I’m aware that it was just a preseason game but to play like they did in their third preseason game is a bit troubling. So troubling in fact that the Steelers silent leader on defense, Troy Polamalu, let his feeling be heard on the sidelines during the third quarter. The Eagles appear to be the favorites to win the NFC East, so maybe it shouldn’t worry Steelers fans that they didn’t perform very well. However, last Wednesday I talked about three things to watch for in the game. After the game you could easily say they failed in all the three categories I wrote about.
First off, I said watching the pass defense attempt to stop Nick Foles would be very interesting and a good test. Minus a Polamalu interception it’s pretty safe to say that they failed to impress anybody on that venture. Foles threw for 178 yards and a touchdown without getting sacked. Even former Jets great, Mark Sanchez had a great game as the backup completing 7 of 9 throws for 85 yards. The Steelers defense also had a tough time stopping LeSean McCoy before his thumb injury forced him to exit the game. On only six touches he recorded a total of 50 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers also failed to slow down anybody else running the ball in a green uniform. The Eagles ran for a total of 182 yards with a 5.2 yard per carry average, while also scoring three touchdowns. I don’t want to jinx anything but thankfully the Steelers start the season against a Brian Hoyer lead Cleveland Browns offense instead of Chip Kelly’s team.
Offensively the Steelers didn’t score until late in the third quarter on a Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller connection. Big Ben was sacked twice and they only ran for a total of 58 yards in the game. They also failed to take advantage of the Polamalu interception in the second quarter that placed them at the Eagles 34 yard line. Maybe the team was distracted by the off field issues of Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount. Either way it wasn’t pretty on the offensive side of the ball. It certainly didn’t look like this team is ready to start the regular season in just 14 days.
The only thing the Steelers did do well was fulfilling a commenters wish of hoping to see a backup quarterback play well. Bruce Gradkowski did just that in the fourth quarter, throwing two touchdowns to Darrius Heyward-Bey and Martavis Bryant. Granted those touchdowns came against a few Eagles players that most likely won’t make the team, but at least Gradkowski looked like a competent backup for the first time this preseason.
Like I said to start this article, it was just a preseason game. Maybe I am overreacting about a poor performance on a short week against an instate rival that maybe wanted to prove something on their home turf. The Blount/Bell situation probably didn’t help the team either. Personally though, after reading that Troy Polamalu felt the need to voice his opinion on the sidelines made alarms go off in my head. Is something wrong or missing with this team that we just haven’t noticed yet? I hope I’m wrong and that the Steelers will shake this one off and be in top form come September 7th. But lets just say I’m a little nervous.
What do you think Steelers Nation? Are my doubts justified or will the team be fine in two weeks?