clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

It’s only preseason, so it’s not time to panic about the Steelers’ defense — or is it?

New, comments

It was only the second preseason game, and so many of the starters were being rested, but the performance of the Steelers’ defense in their 51-34 loss to the Packers on Thursday night looked an awful lot like so many performances in 2017.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

“For all these crybabies if not for 2 pick 6’s thrown by our offense we only lost by 3 points they defense played no better than ours we scored 34 points and plus the starters didn’t even play the whole first quarter wtf call yourselves steeler fans you guys really are pessimistic judging our whole season off practice games and if you a real fan you would know this the years we lose all or most of our preseason games we have awesome seasons that year.”

Run-on sentence/no punctuation guy from the Steelers’ official Facebook page had some fair points following the Steelers’ alarming 51-34 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field in preseason game No. 2 on Thursday night.

It was just a preseason game; also, you take away those two pick-6’s, and things were actually a lot closer than the 17-point deficit indicated.

And like he said, so many starters — players the Steelers will be counting on in Week 1, such as Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey, Vance McDonald (in theory), T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton and Sean Davis didn’t see any action.

But I don’t think Run-on sentence/no punctuation guy was really thinking things through as to what took place on Thursday night. While nobody is really sweating Pittsburgh’s offensive prowess as the team prepares for a highly-anticipated 2018 regular season, the softness of the defense is still a concern.

Let’s face it, whether you want to admit it or not, what took place on Thursday night with all of those defensive starters sitting on the bench looked eerily similar to what took place against an injury-riddled Packers’ team late in the 2017 regular season at Heinz Field — a game in which Aaron Rodgers didn’t even play, while Ryan Shazier did.

It wasn’t so much the yardage the Steelers allowed or the Packers’ third-down efficiency. It wasn’t even so much that the Packers had scored 27 points before they were forced to punt.

Once again, there were so many missed tackles, so many bad angles to ball carriers. And in the middle of the field, it looked like Pittsburgh defenders had placed some of those South Side lawn-chairs between the seams because they knew Green Bay’s offensive players were going to want to park in their spots all night long.

Tyler Matakevich didn’t look like the answer at inside linebacker. As for Jon Bostic, maybe there was a reason he bounced among so many teams after entering the league in 2013.

L.J. Fort seems like he might have the answers if given the chance, but he’s been around here long enough that, if he truly did, we wouldn’t still be asking these questions.

The defense did hold Green Bay to 77 yards rushing, but why run the ball when your four quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers and three other guys with much thinner resumes — can combine to throw for 280 yards and three touchdowns?

I did like what I saw from the veteran Morgan Burnett, along with the youngster, Terrell Edmunds. Unfortunately, while Edmunds appeared to do everything in his power while trying to cover tight end Jimmy Graham, he still looked like a boy next to a grown man during that first quarter touchdown pass from Rodgers (Willie Gay likely feels your pain, kiddo).

So while I don’t normally put much stock in preseason action, when a defense performs a lot like it did down the stretch and into the playoffs of the previous season — and that defense doesn’t seem to have found a way to compensate for the loss of its most indispensable player — I’m going to be a little concerned about the Steelers’ prospects in 2018.

But at least it’s still early.