The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Saturday night when they hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 of NFL preseason action. The Steelers were ______ in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good performance.
With it being the preseason, many of the player who are being criticized are not even going to be employed by the Steelers organization come September, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘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 1 of the preseason...
Stat Line: 4 receptions, 78 yards, 19.5 average
Maybe I was thinking James Washington would have a decrease in production from Week 1 to Week 2, but I was wrong. Washington didn’t just have a productive day, but showed tremendous versatility. So far, in two weeks, he has shown the ability to catch the deep ball, out jump defenders, go over the middle and his nifty sideline catch was a thing of beauty. Washington is making a strong case for increased playing time in 2019.
Stat Line: 6 rushes, 28 yards, 4.7 yard average / 1 rec., 6 yards
This was the first time to see Conner in a full contact situation since the 2018 regular season, and he didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t as if Conner was running wild all over the Chiefs, but his ability to always move forward, and make life tough on a defense is always fun to watch. Conner looks ready for 2019.
Stat Line: 4 rushes, 26 yards, 6.5 yard average, 1 TD
Samuels looks like a different player this preseason compared to last year. He looks faster, more agile and slimmer than the 2018 version. His stat line didn’t jump off the page, but with every game he is proving he is more than capable of being the next man up if Conner were to get injured at some point during the season.
Stat Line: 10/15 77 yards
The stats don’t scream “winner”, but I’m putting Rudolph here because even though he had a slow start he had full command of the offense. His pocket presence has been vastly improved this year, and his arm looks better than ever. Rudolph was putting the football into some very tight windows, and didn’t always get a lot of help from his teammates. Rudolph probably didn’t secure the No. 2 QB spot Saturday night, but he took a big step towards that, in my opinion.
Stat Line: 3 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 TFL
It is just the preseason, but if Dupree could possibly produce this type of production in 2019, the Steelers’ defense could be vastly better than they were in 2018. He is just one player, but if he is able to be a threat opposite T.J. Watt, the Steelers’ defense can be a tough opponent for offenses to deal with.
Stat Line: 3 Takeaways
After last year, any takeaways are tremendous. The Steelers forced three turnovers, all fumbles, and it was a pleasant surprise.
Stat Line: 2 Giveaways
The Steelers might have taken the ball away three times, but they also had two really bad turnovers. The Joshua Dobbs goal line interception are the type of plays Steelers fans saw too much of in 2018. Mike Tomlin mentioned his pleasure with the defense taking the ball away in this post-game press conference, but also mentioned how the giveaways continue to be an issue.
Stat Line: 1 reception, 13 yards
Grimble is on this list based on the fact he had a horrendous drop early in the game. It isn’t just the fact he dropped the ball, but the fact he is battling for a spot on the depth chart, at a ridiculously thin position, and could have really put an exclamation point on his performance. Instead, fans are wondering not if, but when, the Steelers will make a move at the tight end position before the season.
1 reception, 1 yard, 1 fumble
What a way to start your career in Pittsburgh, but this wasn’t just about the fumble, it was about the timing of it. After the Steelers’ defense caused a Carlos Hyde fumble, the next play Rudolph hit Moncrief and he coughed the ball up, giving it right back to Kansas City. I’m not closing the book on Moncrief, but it wasn’t a good start to his tenure in the Steel City.
Stat Line: You are awful
I’m sure I’m not alone when I sat down to watch the Steelers game, go do some stuff at halftime, and come back to the Cowboys vs. Rams game. I know the Steelers game got started late, but you completely abandon a game at halftime? Luckily, I had access to NFL Game Pass and was able to watch the game, but that is some shoddy work by the NFL Network.
Stat Line: This Pass Interference rule is going to be a nightmare
So they don’t allow Diontae Johnson’s first touchdown, where he didn’t interfere, but when the ball clearly touched the ground on his second, first which counted, touchdown, they uphold the call. If this is how the season is going to go, buckle up and get ready to yell at the TV more than usual.