There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black-and-gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with the Steelers getting ready to host the Cleveland Browns at home. There is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a gander at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.
Are we on point? Only time will tell.
Putting Matt Feiler in the starting lineup over Kevin Dotson would be a mistake
It is great to have Matt Feiler back and it’s true that the Steelers need to have all blocking hands on deck. But Kevin Dotson has been consistent and very valuable on the offensive line for the Steelers. The rookie from Louisiana-Lafayette was not invited to the combine before the 2020 draft, but Kevin Colbert found him and he has played brilliantly. Known as a run blocker, Dotson has a high PFF ranking as a pass blocker. In fact, No. 69 made Pro Football Focus’ All Rookie Team. While Feiler is an incumbent starter, he’s not an upgrade over Dotson. Incumbent’s typically get there jobs back when returning from injury, but benching a hot Dotson might not be best at this particular juncture.
Reports of Chase Claypool hitting the rookie wall have been greatly exaggerated
A lot of people have been speculating that the rookie from Notre Dame hit the proverbial rookie wall about six weeks ago or so. Even Mike Tomlin hinted that they were cognizant of the possibility. The Steelers reduced his opportunities and No. 11 only had 220 yards in the previous five games, before gaining 209 in has past three games. Claypool is a very valuable weapon and the Steelers really need to lean on him in the tournament.
If Chris Boswell doesn’t return for Round 1, it’s not that big of a deal
It is, indeed, a really big deal. Matthew Wright has kicked well for the Steelers, going 4/4 with his longest field goal going for 46 yards. The Central Florida kicker is also perfect in all seven point-after chances in the games that he has subbed for Chris Boswell. In the playoffs, however, you need a kicker that has a leg that can get distance on the ball and we’re not just talking field goals. Boswell does have a bigger leg and he gets touchbacks and had 26 on the year. His 35.1% rate is low for him, but he has been hurt. But his 63.2 yard average on kickoffs is the second highest since his rookie season when he was at 63.3. Wright, in turn, has a 57.9-yard kickoff average and has only one touchback out of 15. That’s only 6.7%. Giving opponents good field position is dangerous. As far as field goals go, the Steelers went for a first down on fourth instead of going for a game-tying field goal against Washington. Those are decisions that will get you ousted in the playoffs. So despite the admirable job that Wright has done, Boswell is needed....stat!
However, Kevin Stefanski being out for Cleveland is a big deal than if Mike Tomlin would be out for the Steelers
Stefanski’s absence for Cleveland could be absolutely devastating since he is the offensive play caller for the Browns. In fact, the first-year Head Coach is very innovative on the fly. Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt was originally slated to call plays in exhibition action, but with those games cancelled, Stefanski continued to do so in the regular season. But he knows the system and it was not previously in place. Again, if the Steelers would lose Mike Tomlin from the sidelines, it would not be favorable. But he isn’t the primary play caller. In a regular season game, this would not be as critical...but with a one-and-done situation, it could be really bad.
The Steelers best chance for success on offense is to stick with Randy Fichtner’s plan
I’d like to change the name of this post to “Sure, Why Not or Hell No!”. This would be the latter of the two options. Randy’s offense is like my mother-in-law’s cooking...bland, unimaginative and disappointing. When Ben Roethlisberger called his own plays and opened it up, that being the offense, the Steelers looked really good. That needs to happen from the get-go against Cleveland and going forward. Every series counts. The Steelers surely can not wait until the second half to get going.
Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics, and their status, heading into this week’s game...check out BTSC’s family of podcasts and listen for more on the player below.