A friend of mine texted me in the first half of Friday’s Steelers game versus the New York Giants and commented that preseason football is hard to watch. I kind of disagree. We talk about these players in the offseason, and throughout camp, and it's important to me to evaluate these unknowns as they struggle and shine. I quite enjoyed it.
So without much thought, here are my knee jerk reactions without much thought at all.
Knee Jerk Reactions
- I hate you NFL Network. I live in Maryland and lost the game in the third quarter. For me, no Bart Houston...we have a problem.
- T.J. Watt initially looks like he's as advertised. Take away the sacks and he's still in the ball’s vicinity often. No, I'm not christening him as NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but there's a lot to be excited about here.
- Plenty of pressure from the defense. Nice to see. Javon Hargrave's motor didn't stall after Year One. J-Wobble was all over the place.
- Backup QB could be the ceiling for Joshua Dobbs. I don't want to be overly critical at such an early juncture. In fact, there were some things that impressed me. But the spotlight was way to bright for No. 5 tonight.
- The Steelers will regret not bringing in a veteran backup QB.
- I recently raved about the depth of the offensive line, but Matt Feiler, Brian Mihalik and Jerald Hawkins had glaring struggles.
- I'm officially on the Mike Hilton bandwagon. He's definitely making a statement. Finally a contribution from an Ole Miss CB. Fumble recovery, sack, fourth down stops and a pass breakup make him a candidate for an extended look throughout the preseason and training camp.
- Darrius Heyward-Bey was wide open on the first interception. Wide freaking open on the underthrow.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn't go down easy. He seems like a throwback. I am really enthused with the little I saw. The concussion was a shame. He got it playing hard on the second pick.
- Dirty Red gets a lot of well-deserved pub. But L.J. Fort is equally as impressive. Both had nice games, but Fort still seems to be overachieving under the radar.
I thought Joshua Dobbs settled down, but it was against lower-tier defenders. I still think he can give Landry Jones a fight. Bart Simpson has a better chance of making the team than Bart Houston. Ay Caramba!
Knile Davis and a Fitzgerald Toussaint were pedestrian. Each ripped off a good one, but overall Terrell "Nightmare" Watson was the best of the bunch. That's one nightmare I can handle.
The Wide Receivers hustled. Cobi Hamilton made a nice catch. Juju and Hey Bey were playing with heart, but Canaan Severin's drop was inexcusable. Hats off to the TEs. Jake McGee and David Johnson both had good blocking showcases.
The first-team O-line shined. Although Ramon Foster gave up a sack we're unaccustomed to seeing from him. The second team o-line needs to regroup.
Loved the intensity and motor of the front seven. Watt, Heyward, Hargrave, Fort and Matakevich were firing on all cylinders. But Arthur Moats was a human highlight-reel with three sacks and a pick.
Ross Cockrell got a gift in the end zone for not being flag on the play that he should have been nailed for in the first half. Hilton was the bright spot on defense. Like the hotel chain and Paris, Hilton did it all tonight. The defensive backs weren't great, but they didn't stink either.
Special Teams: C
Nothing real special came out of Danny Smith's unit. The fumble on a punt was nice, but it was an unforced error committed by the Giant returner.
It's hard to gauge coaching in a game like this where the score doesn't matter as much as the level play. But I like the defensive game plan and the intelligent personnel decisions to rest stars.
A pleasing effort all around from the Steelers. They need to get healthy and wrap Ben in bubble wrap and packing tape because the backup situation is bad.