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Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ 16-6 Preseason Week-3 win over the Titans

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BTSC grades the Steelers Week-3 performance against the Tennessee Titans.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers played at Heinz Field for the first time in the preseason. While it was a turnaround from last week’s pasting by the Packers, and a reason for Steelers Nation to back off from the ledge, not everything in the house that Rooney built has been repaired. But there was so much more good than bad in the 16-6 victory over Tennessee.

Once again, grading games like this is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. But twelve quarters of work is helping to tell the story of the players this team will comprise, come Week 1 in Cleveland. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what count the most, the media and fans evaluate as well.

So let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

Offense

Sure, Ben Roethlisberger exhibited some rust. But he threw 18 balls in less than two quarters to “Taylor Swift” it (Shake It Off) sufficiently to be okay for the regular season. Ben looked great on the TD pass to Justin Hunter, and was a victim of drops by his receivers as well. Hunter wasn’t amazing all day, but he offers yet another deep threat for Ben. James Conner needed to establish himself as a pass catcher, and it was imperative for Jaylen Samuels to prove he can traditionally run the ball. They both did that. Jesse James and JuJu Smith-Schuster looked good. JuJu had six catches early and Double-J came off well as a blocker. Speaking of blocking, Zach Banner could quickly be turning into an answer as a valuable backup on the offensive line. Although they didn’t put up a ton of points, adding Vance McDonald, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell to Randy Fichtner’s attack is a mouth- watering scenario.

Overall Offense Grade: B

Honor Roll: Ben Roethlisberger, Justin Hunter, Jaylen Samuels (the rusher), James Conner (the receiver), Jesse James, Zach Banner, JuJu Smith-Schuster

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers offense for their 16-6 winning performance against the Titans?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (61 votes)
  • 4%
    B
    (588 votes)
  • 1%
    C
    (208 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (9 votes)
  • 92%
    F
    (10933 votes)
11799 votes total Vote Now

Defense

The defense was horrendous a week ago. While all concerns weren’t completely alleviated, it seems like Keith Butler’s crew might be turning the corner. After the initial drive, the defense didn’t allow a first down again until the third quarter. The Titans dropped balls and squandered opportunities to give the Steelers some breaks. The pass-rush looked good, the secondary looked much better, but the middle is still somewhat scary. All in all, it looks like this group is coming together and Cam Heyward’s return helped spark it.

Overall Defense Grade: B-

Honor Roll: Stephon Tuitt, Vince Williams, Terrell Edmunds, Farrington Huguenin, L.J. Fort, Ola Adenyi, Lavon Hooks and Matthew Thomas

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers defense for their performance against the Titans?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (222 votes)
  • 5%
    B
    (441 votes)
  • 2%
    C
    (168 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (15 votes)
  • 89%
    F
    (7146 votes)
7992 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams

The Boz was the Boz — and you can’t beat that. Jordan Berry performed much better than in the previous two games and Danny Smith’s kick coverage was very good. They were flying around and not letting the Titans move. But as far as the return game goes, it was average.

Overall Special Teams Grade: B-

Honor Roll: Tyler Matakevich, Matthew Thomas and Nat Behre

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers Special Teams in the 16-6 win over the Titans?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (140 votes)
  • 3%
    B
    (363 votes)
  • 1%
    C
    (165 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (16 votes)
  • 93%
    F
    (10012 votes)
10696 votes total Vote Now

This was a much better effort, and the Steelers are starting to look more like a contender than a pretender. With next week being a showcase for reserves and practice-squad hopefuls, consider this as the most telling preview for the regular season. With key players returning from their various bumps and bruises, 2018 looks more promising based on this exhibition.

Overall Team Grade: B

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers overall performance in their Preseason Week 3 16-6 win over the Tennessee Titans?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (72 votes)
  • 4%
    B
    (518 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (102 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (3 votes)
  • 93%
    F
    (10014 votes)
10709 votes total Vote Now