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Steeler’s report card: Week 1

QB – (A)  Not much to complain about when your QB throws for 300 yards and 3 TD’S.  Ben Roethlisberger made some fantastic throws in this game.  He also missed some throws, including the touchdown that was intended for Sammie Coates, but ended up in the hands of Eli Rogers off a deflection.  Big Ben was fortunate to get a good bounce there.  Overall it was an excellent game for the future Hall of Famer.

RB – (A+)  DeAngello Williams was the best player on the field Monday night.  He lead the entire NFL in rushing for week 1 with 143 yards.  Williams is without question one of the best free agent signings for Kevin Colbert.  Hard to imagine where the Steelers would be without him.

TE – (B+)    Two things are apparent after week 1.  Jesse James may be every bit the receiver that Heath Miller was, but he is nowhere near the blocker.  James had 5 receptions for 59 yards, including a couple of key first downs.  He also missed quite a few blocks on the night.  David Johnson on the other hand, had a great night blocking.   Johnson’s kick-out blocks helped spring Williams for some big runs.

WR – (A)  Antonio Brown absolutely  owned Bashaud Breeland in this game.  AB went for 126 yards on 8 catches, almost all against BreelandEli Rogers also did well in his first NFL game.  He should see plenty open field from the slot this season.  Opposing safeties will have there hands full trying to contain Pittsburgh’s deep threats.  Sammie Coates did what he tends to do, make big plays and have a few drops.

OL – (A)  The offensive line was terrific against the Redskins.  There were big holes all night for the running game, and Big Ben was kept clean for the most part.  Marcus Gilbert looked great despite worries about his injured elbow.  The Steelers are happy to have center Maurkice  Pouncey back.  What a difference he makes in the running game with his ability to pull and lead the back through the hole.  Alejandro Villanueva still has some work to do with his pass blocking.

DL – (B)  Not much to talk about here, given nobody really stood out good or bad.  The pass rush was just not there for this group.  Rookie Javon Hargrave seems to have won the starting nose tackle job.  He got most of the snaps there versus the RedskinsCam Heyward may still be feeling the affects of that ankle sprain, he wasn’t his dominating self on this night.

OLB – (C)  What can we say about this group that we don’t already know.  A pass rush from this group is going to be a struggle all season.  All too often they rush way too far up the arc, leaving a comfortable pocket for Kurt Cousins to throw from.  Without Bud Dupree to give any hope of a rush, this team will be seeing many games like this one with zero sacks.

ILB – (B)  Ryan Shazier is on the verge of greatness in 2016.  There are two things holding him back, missed tackles and staying healthy.  Shazier needs to start converting those missed tackles in the backfield to big losses of yardage for the opposing team.  As far as staying healthy, that will be a major concern for the Steelers all season.  Lawrence Timmons was solid for the most part, but he also had his share of missed tackles.  Interesting that L. J. Fort was the first player in to replace Shazier when he went out, not Vince Williams.  Fort had the closest thing resembling a sack, hitting Cousin’s hand and forcing an errant throw.

C/S – (B+)  The cornerbacks for the Steelers benefitted from the game plan to play a soft zone against the Redskins dangerous receivers.  They were able to keep the Redskins from making too many big plays in the passing game.  Robert Golden stood out in his first game as starting safety.  He may be the best tackler on the team.  Rookie Sean Davis looked lost at times, but that wasn’t unexpected.  What is concerning is the rest of the secondary also looked very confused at times.  This is something defensive coordinator Keith Butler needs to address.  A more established  QB could have really taken advantage of the Steelers disarray in the secondary.

ST – (A) Not much happening in this phase of the game.  There were no punt or kickoff returns to speak of.  Chris Bosworth made good of his only field goal attempt, and Jordan Berry had two decent punts.

COACH – (A) The offensive game plan from Todd Haley was solid and affective.  Keeping AB away from Josh Norman was a huge success. As was the emphasis on the running game taking advantage of the weak Washington run defense.  The strategy  of having Ryan Shazier line up in front of Jordan Reed was a brilliant move by Keith Butler.  It shored up a big weakness the Steelers had against tight ends last season.  Mike Tomlin clearly had Pittsburgh ready to play with on Monday night.  They seemed much more prepared then the Redskins and the results proved it.

 

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