The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday to play the New York Jets in Week 16 of the regular season. After the AFC conference game on Sunday, it is time to see who performed well, and who left a lot to be desired.
Improvement was evident in some ways, and hopefully will continue, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left plays on the field can be deemed ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after Week 16...
Stat Line: 5 tackles / 2 solo / 1 Sack / 1 TFL / 1 Forced Fumble / 1 Fumble Recovery / 3 QB Hits
Could imagine where this team would be without T.J. Watt? You could go a step further and suggest where the team would be without this dynamic defense, but Watt is the straw which stirs the defensive drink. Who is the most impactful defensive player? It isn’t Minkah Fitzpatrick, in my opinion, it is Watt. The man is a one-man wrecking crew who is worthy of the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Stat Line: 14/20 / 129 yards / 1 TD / 0 INT
Maybe it was a sign of the season when Rudolph came into the game, showed the same confidence fans saw when he entered the game in Week 2 after Ben Roethlisberger left with an elbow injury, and got hurt in the third quarter. Rudolph might not be the future at the QB position, but he is certainly getting experience necessary to be a quality backup in the coming years. He played well during his brief stint in the game Sunday.
Stat Line: 8 rec. / 81 yards / 1 TD
When he was drafted there were draftniks who said Johnson had some of the same characteristics of Antonio Brown. The way he runs his routes, his explosiveness and big-play ability. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the rookie, but he is growing into the dynamic playmaker many expected coming out of Toledo.
Stat Line: 7 tackles / 2 solo / 1 sack / 3 TFL / 1 QB Hit
Congratulations to Bud Dupree for his sack which gave him 10.5 for the season, and his first time reaching double-digit sacks in his career. Dupree may have priced himself out of Pittsburgh, but his 2019 season was a special one for the former first round draft pick. He proved many of us, myself included, wrong with a stellar season.
Stat Line: 11/17 / 84 yards / 0 TD / 2 INT
When it rains, it pours. Hodges followed up his 4 interception game vs. the Buffalo Bills in Week 15 with two really bad interceptions in Week 16. It wasn’t like the Jets’ defense was leading the league in takeaways. In fact, they sported one of the worst secondaries in the league, but Hodges threw the ball twice into triple coverage and got burned. He played so poorly you have to wonder if the outcome would have been different had Rudolph not been injured and Hodges had to go back into the game.
Anyone who snaps the football
Stat Line: Botched snaps have been a season-long trend
The botched snaps are becoming more than a trend. They are becoming a problem. Mike Tomlin can talk about how Maurkice Pouncey has always had low snaps, but Ben Roethlisberger handles them with ease, but I’m not buying that explanation. When the center/quarterback exchange isn’t consistent repeatedly, it is a problem.
Stat Line: 4 sacks / 7 QB Hits / 10.5 TFL
I really don’t want to hear anyone talk about how great this offensive line is anymore. They are a good unit, but great? No way. The 4 sacks were bad, the 7 QB hits surrendered were tough, but allowing 10.5 tackles for a loss is downright embarrassing. I had to do a double-take when looking at the statistics to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me...
22 Game Streak
Stat Line: Unbelievable
Protecting the football is paramount, and Mike Tomlin reiterates this every week. Yet the team can’t do it. 22 consecutive games with the Steelers turning the ball over in some way. The focus this past year was on taking the ball away. Mission Accomplished. The 2020 goal should be adding ball security to the list.
Steelers Playoff Hopes
Stat Line: Hopes are on life support
I’d like to take a moment of silence for the Steelers’ playoff hopes. They aren’t dead, but an AED is necessary to revive them. Fans are now hanging onto the Baltimore Ravens hopefully resting starters, and other teams to provide assistance. Ugh...