The Steelers picked up another preseason win against the Jaguars this week, but it was far from impressive. Here are the studs and duds for preseason Week 2.
The Steelers were victorious this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars 16-15, with Mason Rudolph leading a game-winning drive with 2 minutes left. It was an up-and-down performance on both offense and defense, but there were still players who stood out and who flailed under pressure. Let’s start with the positives and look at the ‘studs’ of the Steelers win.
Steelers QBs once again lead list of studs
Steelers QBs impress despite O-line woes
The Steelers trio of QBs weren’t able to put up the same amount of points as last week, but they still managed to perform well despite their supporting cast failing to help them. The rushing game was non-existent compared to last week with just 24 yards on 14 carries. The offensive line did them no favors either, consistently allowing pressure to affect the passing game.
Despite all that, they combined to go 28 of 36 for 263 yards and two scores. Mitch Trubisky started once again and played well despite being constantly pressured. He went for 5 for 8 for 60 yards, including a big 29-yard gain to Chase Claypool. Kenny Pickett came in to relieve him late in the 2nd quarter and lead a quick touchdown drive to end the first half. He finished 6 for 7 for 76 yards and the score, with his only incompletion being a spike to stop the clock.
Rudolph played the entire 2nd half, finishing 17 for 21 for 127 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He did have the lowest yards per attempt of any of the QBs, and he committed an intentional grounding penalty that gave the Jaguars a safety. Overall though, they all played well enough to get the win.
Steelers safeties carry the load against Jaguars
The Steelers issues at linebacker have been casting doubt on their defense’s ability to improve against the run, but their safeties seem determined to help mitigate those concerns. Terrell Edmunds especially was a force in run defense, finishing with five tackles and generally causing havoc up front. Damontae Kazee also showed he wasn’t afraid to throw his body around despite not being the biggest guy, also finishing with five tackles. Even reserve safety Donovan Stiner had four tackles as well.
Minkah Fitzpatrick had a quiet day on the stat sheet, but he almost sacked Trevor Lawrence on a blitz early in the game. If the Steelers are going to struggle at linebacker outside of Myles Jack, it may benefit them to use more three safety looks. This is definitely something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Steelers T.J Watt gets sack in preseason debut
He didn’t stay in the game very long, but T.J Watt made his preseason debut and looked exactly how you would think. The Jaguars were very cautious at first with Watt, sending extra blockers his way to prevent him from collapsing the pocket. That worked for a while, but once he got a chance to rush one-on-one he quickly got to Trevor Lawrence for a sack. He left the game shortly after, but it was nice to see T.J. get some reps after his ‘hold-in’ last season.
Honorable mentions: Tyler Vaughns, Pat Freiermuth, Demarvin Leal
Steelers running backs huge dud after great week against Seattle
Steelers running backs struggle mightily against Jaguars
The Steelers run game was riding high after a 185-yard performance last week, but things came crashing down to earth against the Jaguars defense. They ran for just 24 yards total on the day, with just 10 of those yards coming from their running backs. They did contribute eight catches for 52 yards including a touchdown from Benny Snell, but their production was still far from what it was against Seattle.
Much of the blame falls on the offensive line (more on them later), but none of the backs did anything to help the situation either. If the Steelers want to have a productive offense this year, they desperately need the running game to improve. Having Najee Harris in there will obviously help, but the other backs have to be ready to contribute if called upon.
Steelers O-line gets embarrassed by Jaguars
The Steelers offensive line has been heavily scrutinized all offseason, and for good reason. They added new starters in James Daniels and Mason Cole, but many wondered if it would be enough to fix their issues from last season. If their performance against the Jaguars is any indication, they have a long way to go.
Left tackle Dan Moore Jr had an abysmal day, being beat multiple times for pressures. Meanwhile, Daniels continued to struggle after a rough debut last week, causing concern over his ability to be the interior anchor they were looking for. Both contenders for the other guard spot (Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green) did nothing to inspire confidence that they can hold down that position.
Mason Cole and Chukwuma Okorafor were fine, but none of the starters played well enough to win a regular season game. The backups didn’t do much to show they should be in the running for reps either. The Steelers may need to look outside of their current group if they want to improve.