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Steelers offensive Pro Football Focus grades in Week 12 say the line is not the problem

In the grades provided by PFF, most of the offensive line landed in the top of the list for the Steelers offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers were dominated by the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday. Falling by a score of 41-10 with the Steelers only touchdown coming late in the game, this one was out of reach not long after it started. Between the defense not being able to stop drives and the offense not being able to sustain them, it was truly a team loss with plenty of blame to go around.

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 12 performance. These scores 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 and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 62 snaps on offense in Week 12.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

WR Diontae Johnson: 79.8 (61 snaps)
OT Chuks Okorafor: 76.3 (62 snaps)
G B.J. Finney: 73.8 (62 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 69.6 (47 snaps)
G Trai Turner: 69.0 (62 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

WR James Washington: 52.1 (27 snaps)
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 51.5 (7 snaps)
TE Zach Gentry: 51.1 (22 snaps)
RB Najee Harris: 50.9 (36 snaps)
QB Ben Roethlisberger: 50.0 (62 snaps)


Quarterback

QB Ben Roethlisberger: 50.0 (62 snaps)

According to the grades, Ben Roethlisberger was the worst player on the Steelers offense Sunday. Whether or not you agree with that to be completely true is up to you. Roethlisberger did throw two interceptions and struggled with accuracy at times. It is hard to know exactly who messed up when things don’t come together the way they should, so this one isn’t the score I would argue about. Frankly, I’m surprised the Steelers lowest score score for the offense was a 50.0 on the day.

Running Backs

FB Derek Watt: 58.4 (2 snaps)
RB Anthony McFarland Jr.: 54.7 (12 snaps)
RB Kalen Ballage: 53.4 (8 snaps)
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 51.5 (7 snaps)
RB Najee Harris: 50.9 (36 snaps)

This is not what Steelers fans want to see with Najee Harris coming in at the bottom of the position list and the next-to-lowest score overall on offense. I wasn’t sure with my initial eye test if the running backs were struggling or if the line just wasn’t blocking well, but the grades being so high for the line and low for the runners has PFF making their decision obvious.

Receivers

WR Diontae Johnson: 79.8 (61 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 69.6 (47 snaps)
WR Chase Claypool: 57.9 (61 snaps)
WR Anthony Miller: 52.1 (25 snaps)
WR James Washington: 52.1 (27 snaps)
TE Zach Gentry: 51.1 (22 snaps)

It’s not surprising that Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth top of this list as well as land in the top five for the offense. They are the Steelers two most reliable weapons in the passing game right now with Chase Claypool also being highly used yet not always dependable on a play-by-play basis. According to PFF, Johnson only has one drop of the season and that was in the game against Seattle. Remember, drops is not an official NFL statistic and is kept by individual outlets. Pro Football Reference has Johnson with no drops on the season, so it’s been quite a turnaround from the 2020 drop fest for the Steelers young wide receiver. As for the rest of the group, I was surprised to see Anthony Miller with 25 snaps as I didn’t really notice him being on the field other than his one great catch on a terrible throw.

Offensive Line

OT Chuks Okorafor: 76.3 (62 snaps)
G B.J. Finney: 73.8 (62 snaps)
G Trai Turner: 69.0 (62 snaps)
C Kendrick Green: 64.9 (62 snaps)
OT Zach Banner: 60.0 (2 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 57.5 (62 snaps)

While many wanted to place the blame for the Steelers offense on the line, PFF shouts “hold the phone” before you jump to the conclusion. The Steelers had three offensive linemen in the top five and all six who saw snaps in the top 10. When looking at the lowest score, it might be the best performance from the weakest link this season. While I was not ready to place all the blame on the offensive line for the Steelers woes on that side of the ball, I also wasn’t ready to exonerate them completely. I still don’t know how I feel about these scores without having to sit through watching the game again. But do I really want to torture myself like that?


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.