The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Thursday night when they traveled to play the Philadelphia Eagles in the first official week of NFL preseason action. The Steelers were winners in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good performance.
With it being the preseason, many of the players who are being criticized are not even going to be employed by the Steelers organization come September, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the first game of the preseason...
Stat Line: 16/22, 161 yards, 7.3 average, 1 TD, 0 INT, Rating: 108.3
Haskins was by far the star of the show, and he also played the most. However, I can’t help but see just how comfortable he looks in this Matt Canada offense. Not only does he seem to grasp the concepts, he is able to do them relatively easily. I felt after he misfired on a third down pass in the second quarter he settled in and looked like a starting quarterback. Now, he was going against backups and his offensive line was getting some serious push in the ground game, but you have to tip your hat to Haskins for a solid game played.
Stat Line: 2 total tackles, 1 solo, 1 pass defense, 1 INT
In my ‘5 Steelers defenders to watch vs. the Eagles’ article, I had Justin Layne as one of those players. I’m sure more than one person read this and wondered why Layne would find himself in such a category. The fact is, Layne is a third round pick, and should be pressing for the starting outside cornerback role. I wasn’t expecting much, but wanted to see Layne make a play, and he did. He didn’t play perfect, and had a few questionable plays, but the interception was the bright spot for Layne. Maybe it will be catalyst for more success in the near future...
Kevin Dotson/Dan Moore Jr.
Stat Line: Mauling the Eagles’ 2nd string DLine
I don’t have specific stats for how Dotson and Moore did, but when you watched the Steelers run all over the Eagles right behind these two young linemen you know they are doing something good. Dotson will likely end up with the starting offensive line before the start of the regular season, but Moore is the biggest surprise of this draft class thus far. He has gone from developmental backup to a player who could see significant reps his rookie season. Both of these players still have a lot of work to do, but on Thursday night they dominated.
Stat Line: 2 sacks, 6 QB hits, 2 TFL
I absolutely love the push the Steelers are getting from their backup defensive line. Isaiahh Loudermilk got into the mix with a .5 sack, and players like Carlos Davis and Henry Mondeaux have shown flashes as well. Throw in another 1.5 sacks from the outside linebacker position and it is safe to say the pass rush is still alive and well in Pittsburgh. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
Stat Line: 42 carries, 152 yards, 3.6 average, 2 TDs
The stat line doesn’t necessarily read as if it is anything special, but it was so much fun watching the Steelers grind out tough yards and first downs. I can’t remember the last time the Steelers line had that much push against a defense. Yes, it’s a preseason game. Yes, it was the Steelers’ backups dominating the Eagles’ backups. Yes, I still loved watching it.
Stat Line: 4 tackles, 3 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits
Jamir Jones is a player no one knew much, if anything, about when he was signed this offseason. If they’ve been paying attention this training camp/preseason, they know who he is now. Jones is putting himself in that Mike Hilton role, and I’m not talking about at slot cornerback. What I’m talking about is how Hilton played so well during the preseason there was no way the team could cut him. Jones is that guy at this point, and the Steelers are now saddled with finding a way to make room for him on the 53-man roster. It’s a good problem to have.
Stat Line: No new/major injuries
No news is good news, and when you are talking about injuries in the National Football League that remains true. The Steelers had no new injuries of note following the preseason win, and that in itself is something to celebrate.
Stat Line: Not the best look for many
The return of players like Chuks Okorafor and Trai Turner had fans excited, and rightfully so. However, the starting line, and it wasn’t the projected starting offensive line, looked rusty. It should have been expected, and the Eagles’ starting defensive front is good, but it would have left fans with a better feeling if there was more push from the starting offensive line and less of...well...what we saw most of the time.
Stat Line: 5 penalties for 36 yards
The overall numbers don’t seem like penalties were an issue, but when you watch the first quarter on offense, there were two penalties which nullified big plays. That simply can’t happen, and something Mike Tomlin stressed both before and after the game vs. the Eagles. At least it happened in a meaningless preseason game, and not a game that really counts.
Check out more about the Winners and Losers from the Steelers’ win over the Eagles in the podcast below: