The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Saturday night when they traveled to play the Tennessee Titans in Week 3 of NFL preseason action. The Steelers were winners 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: 5 rushes, 41, yards, 8.2 ave / 2 receptions, 15 yards
Yes, Conner played well in the Steelers’ preseason game vs. the Chiefs in Week 2, but this performance, with the starting offensive line, was different. Conner was decisive, fast and physical. All three attributes you want in a starting running back. Conner has proven all he needs heading into 2019, but only one question remains — Can he stay healthy for a full 16-game regular season?
Stat Line: 8-for-13, 63 yards, 1 TD
There was some visible rust from Roethlisberger to start the game, but when the franchise signal caller settled in you got a glimpse of what the Steelers’ offense should look like in 2019. No focus on any one player, but spreading the ball around and eventually taking advantage of coverage down the field. The strike to JuJu Smith-Schuster is something fans should get used to seeing. Great game for Roethlisberger, now we wait until Week 1 to see it again vs. the Patriots.
Stat Line: 4 total tackles, 4 solo, 1 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QB Hit
I said this on the post-game podcast last night, but Skipper reminds me a lot of Mike Hilton a few years ago. Hilton was making play after play in training camp and the preseason, and it got to a point where the Steelers couldn’t cut him. They just couldn’t after the way he played. Skipper is falling into that category, and with Ola Adeniyi on the shelf you have to wonder what spot he takes to make the 53-man roster.
Stat Line: 0 sacks surrendered, 111 yards rushing
It was great to see the starting offensive line working together again. Mike Munchak built a great unit, and they are able to continue their dominance without him. Roethlisberger never got touched, and neither did Mason Rudolph. The starting offensive line was having their way with the Titans’ defense, the way it should be.
Stat Line: 7 sacks, 8 TFL, 7 QB Hits, 3 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR
Did I say the offensive line had their way with the Tennessee defensive front? Well, the Steelers’ defense had their way with the Titans’ offense as well. Just look at the stat line above. Yes, the Steelers were blitzing a lot, but that is what the Steelers do. But if I’m being totally honest right now, the secondary was almost the most impressive part of the game. The Steelers team speed has increased so much from 2018 to 2019, it has me pretty pumped to see this team play defense when the games count.
Ryan Switzer / Eli Rogers
Combined Stat Line: 1 reception, 11 yards, 3 targets
Maybe I’m nit picking here, considering they rotated in during the first half, but I used to see both of these players making the team, but I wonder if that will actually happen. Switzer returned kicks, so that helps his cause, but James Washington didn’t play with Roethlisberger while Switzer and Rogers were given a chance to shine. Maybe my expectations were too high, but they underwhelmed on Sunday night.
Stat Line: 2 turnovers, 1 takeaway = -1 turnover ratio
Last night’s game reminded me a lot of the 2018 season, when it pertained to turnovers and takeaways. The team was able to get a turnover, but gave it away more than they took it away. The importance of this ratio, in my opinion, cannot be stated enough. I’ll hold my true judgement until the starters see a full game, considering the fact both turnovers were from backup quarterbacks.