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The Steelers tight ends tops their offensive Pro Football Focus grades in Week 8

In the grades provided by PFF, the Steelers two tight ends land in their top three.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their winning streak coming out of the bye in Week 8 and carry even more momentum into their next two games against NFC opponents at home. Even though the offense only managed 15 points, the defense got the job done in order for the Steelers to enjoy a victory on their bus ride home from Cleveland.

But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for their Week 8 performance. These score are just from Sunday’s game and not for the entire season. Before going any further, I must give the typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense and defense. First up this week is the offense. Included will be all the players who played at least one snap (except for the six players whose special teams snap turned into an offensive snap due to the faked field goal) and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 75 snaps on offense in Week 8. The snap counts are a little off this week because of the faked field goal, but rather than attempt to adjust them myself I will leave them as the totals given by PFF.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

TE Zach Gentry: 85.0 (46 snaps)
G Trai Turner: 80.3 (74 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 77.3 (59 snaps)
WR Diontae Johnson: 71.5 (68 snaps)
OT Chuks Okorafor: 71.1 (75 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

RB Kalen Ballage: 57.1 (3 snaps)
QB Ben Roethlisberger: 53.2 (74 snaps)
RB Anthony McFarland: 51.7 (7 snaps)
WR James Washington: 48.8 (34 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 28.7 (75 snaps)


Quarterback

QB Ben Roethlisberger: 53.2 (74 snaps)

I thought Ben Roethlisberger played his best game of the 2021 NFL season in Week 8. Apparently, PFF did not agree. Instead, Roethlisberger had his fifth ranked game of the season coming in behind two of the Steelers losses. Despite taking care of the ball and doing what the Steelers needed to secure a victory despite not having a kicker, Roethlisberger still landed in the bottom five for the offense according to PFF.

Running Backs

RB Najee Harris: 65.4 (62 snaps)
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 61.4 (2 snaps)
FB Derek Watt: 58.0 (8 snaps)
RB Kalen Ballage: 57.1 (3 snaps)
RB Anthony McFarland: 51.7 (7 snaps)

Once again Najee Harris has another solid performance. Not only is he hoarding almost all of the snaps, he was the Steelers highest-graded pass blocker in the game with a score of 82.7 on eight pass blocking snaps.

Receivers

TE Zach Gentry: 85.0 (46 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 77.3 (59 snaps)
WR Diontae Johnson: 71.5 (68 snaps)
WR Chase Claypool: 64.8 (72 snaps)
WR Ray-Ray McCloud: 64.3 (11 snaps)
WR James Washington: 48.8 (34 snaps)

The Steelers tight ends top this list with Gentry as the top overall score on the team. Pat Freiermuth continues to have the best score this season as both tight ends had a very solid day. What might be the most notable of all is how every receiver, with the exception of James Washington, had a score above 60.0 which is the starting point used by PFF.

Offensive Line

G Trai Turner: 80.3 (74 snaps)
OT Chuks Okorafor: 71.1 (75 snaps)
G Kevin Dotson: 70.0 (75 snaps)
C Kendrick Green: 63.7 (74 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 28.7 (75 snaps)

The Steelers offense of line is improving. Seeing Chuks Okorafor in the top five on offense should be a sigh of relief for Steelers’ fans. What put him there was having the top run blocking grade on the team of 80.3 which was even ahead of Trai Turner. I have to bring up Turner as well as he saw his best grade since Week 12 of the 2019 season.

Once again, I’m going to go off on a little rant about PFF. Some people don’t like this explanation as they wonder why even write this article if I don’t agree with it. The answer to this is simply that I’m reporting the scores for you all to see and then I give my take. This time, I’m bothered by the score given to Dan Moore Jr. I’m not saying that Moore had a great game, but the reason he has a score of 28.7 was because he had a run blocking score of 56.5 and a pass blocking score of 0.0 on 40 snaps. My problem is the score of 0.0 simply because I don’t get how anyone could have a score that low. Yes, Dan Moore had a very tough assignment as he was attempting to slow down Myles Garrett with little-to-no help a lot of the time. Although he struggled against one of the best defenders in the NFL, his score would indicate that there is nothing that he could have done to be any worse than what he was. I simply don’t agree with it being at that level.

Now that I got that out of my system, I wanted to share where Geoff Schwartz, former offensive lineman of the Panthers, Vikings, Chiefs, and Giants, broke down some of the Steelers run blocking plays to show how much they are improving. He even credits Dan Moore with some nice blocks in the run game.


So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.