What we learned from Pittsburgh Steelers preseason win vs Jaguars
The Steelers came from behind to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second preseason game. Here’s what we learned from preseason Week 2.
Look, the Steelers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second preseason game by one point to remain undefeated thus far in 2022; however, that game may have been one of the most uninspiring games I have ever seen, preseason, regular season, or playoffs.
We were frankly fortunate to have won the game, plain and simple. According to ESPN.com, the Jaguars should have won the game as evidenced by the fact that they essentially outplayed us in almost every aspect of the game, except for the one that matters the most-the final score.
To say that we played poorly would probably be unfair considering the Steelers won the game, but we could have easily lost which is more concerning to me than anything else. I honestly do not think we played particularly well in any phase of the game, but, again, we won so I guess that is all that matters.
Let’s take a look at what we learned on offense.
The Steelers offense is still very much a work in progress
If you did not watch the game and I told you that we gained a total of two-hundred and seventy-nine yards, that the Jaguars gained a total of three-hundred and sixty-seven yards and that the Jaguars forced a safety, I think the logical conclusion would be that we lost the game.
Fortunately, that was not the case, but I have to tell you that although we won the game and are now undefeated in preseason, the offense has the look and feel of a unit that has not coalesced to this point. Yes, I understand that it is preseason and that not every projected starter has seen action, as it were.
The one unit that has struggled the most is the offensive line. We are again showing signs of being inconsistent in both pass protection and in opening up running lanes. Although only one sack was surrendered, our QBs were under duress on almost every passing play. We took a safety in the third quarter because Mason Rudolph got instant pressure and was unable to escape the pocket.
All I will say is this: if the Steelers are not objective enough to realize that the offensive line is the ‘Trojan Horse’ right now, we could be in for a very long and very frustrating season, one that may wind up being a losing campaign.
Let’s take a look at what we learned on defense.
The Steelers played the ‘bend, don’t break’ style of defense against the Jaguars
Again, we won the game and that is all that matters, but you have to wonder how sustainable this style of defense will be once the games start to actually count for something. I can tell you that the ‘Cover 2 Man’ deployment that we saw for most of the game will not be sustainable.
When the Steelers decided to go to a zone coverage scheme, we got carved up. So, what’s the answer? We can’t play man-to-man every snap and we can’t play zone every snap. I realize we were probably trying to not show all of our blitz packages, but, for me, the purpose of preseason is to see what calls work and what calls do not work.
The Steelers were fortunate in that the QBs for the Jaguars were not particularly accurate on third-down passes. We were also fortunate that the Jaguars kicker missed two FGs. Had those been made, we would be talking about a loss rather than talking about a win.
Let’s see what else we learned.
The Steelers coaching staff and front office will have some tough decisions to make in the coming weeks
I realize I stated this after the game last week, but this is the time of the year when Mike Tomlin and company will have to decide who will be part of the active roster and who will be signed to the practice squad.
I think it is pretty clear that some of our ‘front-line’ starters on both sides of the ball have not played particularly well thus far. I think it is also pretty clear that our backups, for the most part, are playing like backups.
Justin Layne had a pick in the fourth quarter when the Jaguars were driving for what could have been a game-winning score, but other than that, the defense was shaky. As I stated previously, the offensive line played inconsistently at best.
So, what’s the answer? I think the answer is pretty clear. By week one of the regular season, the Steelers need to assemble the best fifty-three players we possibly can if we are to make a run this season. If we have to make trades in order to accomplish that, so be it. If we have to release some veterans in order to accomplish that, so be it.
Easier said than done. Bring on the Detroit Lions.