clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

T.J. Watt back on top of the Steelers Week 8 Pro Football Focus grades

In the grades provided by PFF, T.J. Watt gets back to familiar territory on the top of the list of Steelers defenders.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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. Next up is the defense. Included will be all the players who played at least one snap and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 59 snaps on defense in Week 8.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

OLB T.J. Watt: 84.3 (51 snaps)
DT Cam Heyward: 81.4 (47 snaps)
ILB Joe Schobert: 79.7 (52 snaps)
OLB Derrek Tuszka: 79.1 (5 snaps)
CB Joe Haden: 74.5 (59 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

DT Isaiah Buggs: 43.3 (24 snaps)
OLB Taco Charlton: 42.9 (10 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 41.0 (44 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 36.5 (15 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 34.6 (59 snaps)


Defensive Front Seven

OLB T.J. Watt: 84.3 (51 snaps)
DT Cam Heyward: 81.4 (47 snaps)
OLB Derrek Tuszka: 79.1 (5 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 66.9 (15 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 65.0 (43 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 61.7 (16 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 52.7 (54 snaps)
DT Isaiah Buggs: 43.3 (24 snaps)
OLB Taco Charlton: 42.9 (10 snaps)

It was the Steelers front seven that saw the greatest percentage of players above the 60.0 starting point of PFF. T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward continue to dominate and win their one-on-one, and sometimes more than one, matchups. Rookie Isaiahh Loudermilk is continuing to give quality performances in a reserve role as well as Derrek Tuszka showing he can get the job done in his very limited snaps. While it may be discouraging to see Taco Charlton at the bottom of the list in his first action with the Steelers, you have to keep in mind that PFF grades players on what they feel is “winning their individual battle” on his play while the Steelers may not have been asking Charlton to necessarily do so on Sunday in his first game action of the season.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Joe Schobert: 79.7 (52 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 41.0 (44 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 36.5 (15 snaps)

The obvious stand out here is Joe Schobert who showed up in a big way against the team who drafted him in 2016. In his best performance since joining the Steelers according to PFF, Schobert’s coverage grade of 75.2 was his best of the season while still playing solid against the run with a 71.9 score.

Defensive Backs

CB Joe Haden: 74.5 (59 snaps)
S Miles Killebrew: 63.1 (5 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 58.1 (54 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 57.2 (53 snaps)
CB Tre Norwood: 51.5 (7 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 51.0 (59 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 48.8 (7 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 34.6 (59 snaps)

As mentioned above when talking about Taco Charlton, one of the reasons it is so difficult to use PFF scores in judging players in the secondary is because when someone may be doing exactly what they were asked to do on a play it may not come across as a “win” to those determining the scores. For example, Minkah Fitzpatrick had another sub-average performance according to PFF in Week 8. But something their grades do not take into account is the fact quarterbacks may be looking to see where he is on the field and intentionally throwing away from him. Even though Fitzpatrick was targeted three times according to PFF, he did not give up a reception. There very well may be plays in which Fitzpatrick is hanging back in an attempt to bait a quarterback in the making a throw he can jump on for an interception, but if the quarterback throws the ball elsewhere Fitzpatrick may have been graded as a loss on the play because the closest player to him appears to be open.

Getting back to the rest of the scores, Joe Haden found himself in the top five of the Steelers defense for the first time since Week 1. Additionally, Miles Killebrew performed admirably in his limited number of snaps in what was his first notable action of the season. Otherwise, no other player in the secondary finished above the 60.0 mark despite only giving up 225 passing yards and no passing touchdowns.


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.