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Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ 27-14 win over the Dolphins in Week 8

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BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after Week 8 of the 2019 season.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers were supposed to destroy an 0-6 team that seemed to be tanking. Nobody told the Dolphins that they shouldn’t bother showing up. But they did. Mason Rudolph was late to the party and it looked like disaster from the get go, but James Conner stepped in.

For some reason, I’ve been given the responsibility to rate the performance of the squad. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it a whirl. Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All week, I had certain expectations of this contest, then the game happened and judgments abound.

Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what counts the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well. All letter grades are simply based on the eye test of somebody watching at home. In this case, it’s my doofus opinion.

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

Offense: C+

The game plan was better, so I don’t fault Randy Fichtner, but Mason Rudolph was pitiful most of the first half. He threw one pick, should have had two or maybe three. The second would have been James Washington’s fault. He was a huge disappointment as well. But Rudolph rallied and won vertically by going 20/36, 251 yards, and those two TD passes. JuJu Smith-Schuster (103 yards) and Diontae Johnson (84 yards) both had five catches and a touchdown to aid Rudolph, but the Steelers were carried by James Conner’s 145 yards rushing. No. 30 was aided by the return of Roosevelt Nix and a solid performance by the offensive line. The offense was better, but the ineptness early was a major concern.

Poll

What grade do you think the offense deserves after the win on MNF over Miami?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (13 votes)
  • 44%
    B
    (805 votes)
  • 47%
    C
    (864 votes)
  • 7%
    D
    (130 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (9 votes)
1821 votes total Vote Now

Defense: A-

This is a powerful defense now and they are going to have to carry the offense for the foreseeable future. The rush defense was again a strength by allowing only 60 yards rushing. Cameron Heyward stepped up as a defensive leader, while Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt and Steven Nelson led with great play as well. They gave up two early TDs but the offense put them in poor field position. Once again, this is the strength of the team.

Poll

What grade do you think the defense has earned after the MNF victory against the Dolphins?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    A
    (917 votes)
  • 43%
    B
    (788 votes)
  • 4%
    C
    (85 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
1800 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams: B

Berry didn’t have to punt much, but did it well when he did with an average of 46.7 on three kicks. Boswell has remained solid with two field goals and three point afters. His first miss of the year was a 54 yard attempt which came up short and right. The return game continues to be invisible.

Poll

What grade would you assign the ST Unit after the Steelers win over the winless Dolphins?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    A
    (169 votes)
  • 58%
    B
    (937 votes)
  • 26%
    C
    (425 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (56 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (12 votes)
1599 votes total Vote Now


Overall: A-

It was scary early, but they got it together. The offense stepped up, but Rudolph is still suffering from major growing pains. Thankfully, the defense is great now and providing the strength for this team. James Conner’s injury is a concern, and a lot of the short term could hinge on that diagnosis.

Poll

What overall grade would you mark the Steelers with after their win over the Dolphins?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    A
    (194 votes)
  • 66%
    B
    (1109 votes)
  • 19%
    C
    (328 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (26 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (7 votes)
1664 votes total Vote Now

Valedictorian: James Conner and Cam Heyward

Honor Roll: Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, Roosevelt Nix, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steven Nelson, T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Vince Williams

Requires Improvement: Mason Rudolph, James Washington, Joe Haden and tackling.


Now it is your turn to play teacher. Use the polls and the comments section below. We can compare notes in the teachers lounge.