The Steelers fell to 1-3 after giving up a 10-point lead to the Jets. Here are the studs and duds for the disappointing loss.
The Steelers dropped to 1-3 on Sunday after their loss to the Jets, failing to put the game away after being up 20-10 in the 4th quarter. Rookie QB Kenny Pickett finally made his debut and helped give the offense a spark, but his rookie mistakes also put the team in a bad spot late in the game.
The defense broke down late once again, allowing Zach Wilson and the Jets offense to score touchdowns on consecutive drives to take the lead. Despite all the negatives, a few players also did everything they could to get the win. Here are the studs and duds this week for the Steelers, starting with a breakout rookie performance.
Steelers Pickens, Freiermuth lead list of studs against Jets
George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth dominate in the passing game
After watching the first three games of the Steelers season, if anyone told me that George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth would have over 90% of the receiving yards against the Jets, I would have asked them if they needed to see a doctor. Between the complete disregard for throwing over the middle and Mitch Trubisky struggling to find Pickens so far this year, it would make no sense.
That all changed, with the duo soaking up 17 of 25 total targets in the game. Both QBs targeted them early and often, with usual top targets Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool barely having an impact. Pickens finished with six catches for 102 yards, and Freiermuth had a big day as well with seven catches for 85 yards It will be interesting to see how the targets shake out moving forward.
Minkah Fitzpatrick bounces back after poor week 3 showing
Minkah had another excellent showing against the Jets this week, finishing with eight tackles, two passes defended, and an interception. The pick was another example of him always being around the ball, fighting through a pick play and intercepting a tipped pass. His ability to cover so much ground continues to be an asset for the Steelers defense, especially with the pass rush still missing TJ Watt.
The coverage broke down late and it contributed to the loss, but Minkah himself said they need to adapt better once teams figure out how to avoid him. They face a much tougher challenge next week, so let’s hope they can figure things out before facing Buffalo.
Steelers pass rush shows life against decimated Jets line
There is a huge caveat to the Steelers finally applying some pressure without Watt, but it was still nice to see them get after Zach Wilson this game. The Jets were missing multiple tackles and lost their rookie tackle Max Mitchell during the game, so it would have been a huge issue if they didn’t get to Wilson.
The sack numbers weren’t there (Alex Highsmith had the only one). but they had 6 QB hits and made Wilson uncomfortable for most of the game. Once Wilson and the Jets offensive staff adjusted to the Steelers coverage, however, the pass rush couldn’t get home late in the game. They still need to be better moving forward.
Steelers Maulet, top receivers lead list of duds
Arthur Maulet obliterated in coverage in loss
The injury to Ahkello Witherspoon in last week’s loss to the Browns loomed large in this game, as Arthur Maulet was forced into more playing time. Maulet is a fine player in a part-time role, but when he is asked to play heavy snaps he can be taken advantage of in coverage. The Jets repeatedly abused Maulet down the stretch, which helped them have a big 4th quarter passing performance. The Steelers better hope Witherspoon is available against Josh Allen next week.
Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool disappear against Jets
Six. That is the number of combined targets that Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool had against the Jets. I would say I am surprised, but they didn’t deserve any more than that with the way they were playing. Johnson had a dropped pass that was intercepted on the tip, and Claypool had a good chance to catch Kenny Pickett’s first pass but allowed Jets safety Lamarcus Joyner to break it up.
The Jets other safety Jordan Whitehead then intercepted the tipped pass. For reference, Claypool is 6’4 and Joyner is 5’8. The Steelers really need these guys to step up now that Kenny Pickett is expected to be the starter moving forward. Rookie QBs have a hard enough time adjusting to the NFL regardless of their supporting cast, but having your most established receivers playing poorly can’t happen. I expect to see much more from them next week.