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2021 Steelers Rookie Review: Week 16 Kansas City Chiefs Edition

A weekly review of the 2021 Steelers rookies performances each week, based on personal observations.

NFL: DEC 26 Steelers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As expected, the surging Kansas City Chiefs handled the opposite of surging Pittsburgh Steelers squad quite easily. The Chiefs, currently sporting a league best 8 game winning streak, hold the top spot in the AFC conference. The fact that the Chiefs emerged victorious surprised absolutely no one, but the ease with which the Chiefs dominated the Steelers was shocking to behold.

Both teams were missing starters due to injuries and COVID, but the talent disparity between the two rosters was staggering. One team looked like the number one seed in the conference, and the other appeared like they were still in contention for the number one selection of the 2022 NFL Draft. That is not hyperbole, far from it actually.

The television broadcast shared an unbelievable tidbit of information on the screen early in the second half. The 2021 Steelers were the first team to be losing three straight road contest by at least 23 points at halftime. The first ever, in NFL history. Combine that dubious accomplishment with all the other aspects of offensive incompetence achieved by the Steelers, and they are challenging historic levels of ineptitude. Let’s take a quick glance back at the results.

RB Najee Harris

Harris once again eclipsed the century mark in total combined yards on the afternoon, but the majority of his damage was done after the game had gotten out of hand and the Chiefs mercifully called off the dogs. Harris continues to battle every snap, against overwhelming odds, regardless of the scoreboard. The fact that he leads the NFL in total touches, is fifth in rushing yards, and is approaching one thousand yards rushing in his rookie season; all while operating behind arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL, is nothing short of miraculous. I don't want to jinx the young man, but let's just say he has yet to put the pigskin on the ground. Against the Chiefs on Sunday, he displayed his excellent athleticism in hurdling yet another defender, and his strength by bouncing a Chiefs defender like a basketball with a devastating stiff arm along the sidelines. Kevin Colbert and company will always be accused of putting the cart before the horse by selecting Harris before they had a offensive line capable of supporting him, but they obviously didn't want to miss the opportunity to draft what they considered a special talent.

TE Pat Freiermuth

Freiermuth missed the first game of his impressive rookie season after he was unable to clear concussion protocols in time to play in the contest. Considering his most recent concussion was the second one in less than a month, the Steelers were wise to proceed with caution. His long term health and production take precedent in any decision of potential risk. He was sorely missed against the Chiefs, but early reports suggest he will be making his triumphant return against the Browns.

C Kendrick Green

Green hasn't just hit the hypothetical rookie wall, he has annihilated it. Watching him try to operate at the center of the Steelers offensive line would be hilarious at this point if his incompetence wasn't so completely debilitating for the Steelers offense. He is stumbling, bumbling, and mumbling to himself out of shear confusion far too often at this stage of the season. He spends more time picking himself up off the ground than he does blocking if the truth be told. Simply put, he is overwhelmed and is hurting his team at this point. The Steelers coaches have to recognize the situation and save the young man from himself moving forward. He has potential, but he needs to assume a seat on the bench, where he can rediscover his confidence and regain his composure, before he suffers any long term damage in either area.

LT Dan Moore Jr.

Moore continues to get the job done through a combination of blood, sweat, and tears. He is still struggling with bull rushes on occasion, but has shown marked improvement in his run blocking. While his rookie linemate Kendrick Green has regressed recently, Moore continues to defy the odds as a functional left tackle in the NFL, especially with a mobility challenged future HOF QB looking like a sitting duck behind him, and the entire offense counting on him to hold his own. He is a young building block with potential for the Steelers moving forward.

ILB Buddy Johnson

Johnson can't seem to catch a break. Just when he was starting to receive snaps on the game day roster, he is ruled out against the Chiefs with a foot injury, after practicing fully earlier in the week. The Steelers really could have used his services, with Devin Bush out due to COVID protocol. It really did feel like a missed opportunity for the young linebacker.

DE Isaiahh Loudermilk

Loudermilk made the first start of his career against the Chiefs, with usual starter Chris Wormley missing the game due to a groin injury. Loudermilk gave a respectable account of myself in the hostile road environment. He once again held up well against the running game, but he showed real progress in doing so. He has improved throughout the season at disengaging from blockers and wrapping up ball carriers. He had his best performance yet against the Chiefs. He was credited with 6 total tackles, 3 of the solo variety. He continues to mainly get pressure through sheer power and collapsing the pocket, but his improved hand usage has been noticeable.

DB Tre Norwood

Norwood received a slight increase in snaps, even with the score getting out of hand early. The Steelers tried to utilize his instincts and intelligence in their zone coverages, as the Steelers coaches appeared to be scared to death of Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs unmatched speed at receiver. He saw snaps mostly in the nickel, with a handful at safety. He was mostly a nonfactor, outside of one memorable shoestring tackle.

P Pressley Harvin lll

Harvin missed the game as the Steelers put him on the bereavement list after the death of his father. The talented young man has been unable to perform up to his substantial abilities in recent weeks. He appeared to be struggling mightily with his focus, and now we know why. The Steelers have pledged the full support of the franchise to the family, and he will be given whatever time he needs moving forward. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and the family.