The Pittsburgh Steelers finished the preseason on a high note, but not everything went as planned. Here are my biggest takeaways from the win.
If the preseason were the playoffs, Steelers fans would be happy campers. The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to close out all three exhibition games of 2022 and they look to enter the season well-prepared. Against the Lions in the preseason finale, there were some things that I really liked. However, there were also things that have me very worried about entering Week 1.
The Steelers were easily able to stay in control throughout the contest, and it never looked like a game that Detroit had a chance to win, but Lions head coach Dan Campbell did choose to rest many of his players in this contest. Here are my biggest takeaways from Steelers final preseason game of 2022:
Steelers defense looks the part
There are almost no complaints from this contest when looking at it from a defensive standpoint. I was surprised to see T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick play so long into this contest, but the results were exactly what we wanted them to be.
The Steelers didn’t allow any first-half points, as the Lions backup quarterbacks had plenty of issues simply trying to pick up first downs. Quarterbacks Tim Boyle and David Blough combined to finish the game going 22 of 47 passing for 201 yards (4.8 yards per attempt) with 1 touchdown and 1 interception (the TD came in the closing seconds of the contest).
Devin Bush had a few cringy plays, but I thought it was a very solid performance by the rest of the group. They should have us optimistic heading into the season.
Steelers offensive line is still a major concern
I was disappointed to see how much of a struggle it was yet again for Pittsburgh’s offensive line to get anything going against the Lions. While they didn’t have the same number of ugly reps we saw last week against the Jaguars, they were plagued by penalties as Dan Moore and Kevin Dotson combined for three holding calls early in the game.
This group might have inched forward in the right direction as the game went on, but there were a few ugly pass sets and Najee Harris was only able to rush for 2.5 yards per carry behind the questionable offensive line. This is one of the single greatest concerns on the team entering the season.
Mitch Trubisky did enough to be in the driver’s seat
For the third straight week, I thought that Kenny Pickett looked pretty impressive. However, this really was Mitch Trubisky’s job to lose from the start, and he did enough to keep the coaching staff optimistic.
Though there were a few missed opportunities in this contest and the offense had to settle for too many field goals, his touchdown drive on the two-minute drill just before the half will ultimately prove to seal his fate as the starter to begin the season. Trubisky finished strong with a 119.3 passer rating after going 15 of 19 for 160 yards (8.4 yards per attempt) and a touchdown, via ESPN.
Aggressiveness could have cost Pittsburgh in the preseason finale
I understand Mike Tomlin’s motives, but I don’t agree with his approach. The Steelers head coach wants to make sure that his team is well-prepared to face a difficult Cincinnati Bengals team in Week 1, but I’m not sure that leaving your star players in the game for an entire half of meaningless exhibition action is the answer.
Both T.J. Watt (knee) and Diontae Johnson (shoulder) left the game due to injuries. Fortunately, neither of these injuries appear to be too serious, but a long-term injury to either player could have cost them big. Damontae Kazee also suffered what appeared to be a wrist injury in this contest. I like the aggressive approach, for the most part, but I thought the star players should have been pulled sooner.
There were certainly some interesting notes from Pittsburgh’s preseason finale against the Lions. I will do a deeper dive into the tape soon to break down what we’ve learned.