After a game there are players who impress, and some who disappoint. This is where our weekly “Winners and Losers” column was born. Sometimes being labeled a loser is a bit harsh, but ultimately there are players every game who simply aren’t up to “the standard”.
Time to diagnose who falls into which category for the Pittsburgh Steelers after the team’s Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns.
What can be said which hasn’t already been said? Brown was the only offensive player who impressed on Sunday, and he single-handedly moved the offense on more than one occasion. Brown finished the day with 11 receptions for 182 yards. He didn’t hit pay dirt, but the Steelers don’t even score 14 offensive points without Brown. Oh, almost forgot, Brown’s 11 receptions came on 11 targets. Yeah, he is pretty good.
When Watt was the Steelers first round draft pick, many questioned the move. Experts suggested he was too raw and needed to work on his pass rushing moves better. Although he is far from a finished product, he is also much further along than most, including me, expected in his rookie season. His two sack, seven tackles, two quarterback hits, one pass defense and one interception day was awesome. Yeah, read that sentence again. Incredible debut.
The Steelers defense got after DeShone Kizer in a big way, and although many of the team’s 7 sacks were on the rookie quarterback, you still have to get him to the ground. Pittsburgh registered 7 sacks and 8 quarterback hits in the contest, just one shy of the 8 they racked up against Cleveland last year at Heinz Field. Nonetheless, when the team is focuses on getting more pressure without blitzing, this was exactly that as the team dominated up front to get pressure on the quarterback.
Not to toot my own horn, but I listed James as a ‘sleeper’ pick in my fantasy football article this week, and he came through with two touchdowns. At a time when the team traded for a tight end, James knew it was his job to lose, and he played well. His stat line for the day was: 6 receptions on 8 targets for 41 yards and 2 touchdowns. If the tight ends are good for only one thing this year, and those are red-zone receptions, then this offense will take that every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
The Offense not named Brown
What a dud of a performance all around. The play calling never let the running game get going, and when they tried the offensive line was pushed around with ease. When the team wanted to throw the ball, they did so in the quick slant/bubble screen style game which can be infuriating. To be honest, I wasn’t shocked the team struggled offensively, gauging this by how little they played together in the preseason, but fans expect a bit more precision to the attack. The good news here? It can’t get much worse, right?
13 penalties for 144 yards. Yes, some were bush league calls, but that is inexcusable. There is a trend developing here with undisciplined play, and it is up to the coaching staff to get the players back on the straight and narrow. Get officials out to practice, call people out in film, whatever it takes, because giving up that much yardage by penalty just won’t cut it against a better team.
Did I leave someone off a list, or was my list complete garbage? Let me know, as I’m sure you will, in the comment section below.