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Who graded out well for the Steelers defense in preseason Week 1 vs. the Eagles

Checking in on the PFF grades for the Steelers’ defensive players in the second preseason game vs. the Eagles.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious in their second preseason action vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. The 24-16 final score could have been even more had the Steelers not chose to take a knee on the Eagles’ four-yard line with just over a minute left. But with the Steelers already running more than 50 offensive plays in the second half, they had seen enough and were ready to get back to Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the Steelers defense, while holding the Eagles to no first downs and negative yardage, only saw 11 snaps in the second half.

But how did these players grade out?

To get a better grasp on the individual performances by the Steelers, we turn to Pro Football Focus (PFF) to see their individual grades. Before going any further, it’s time for the disclaimer as we are all aware many fans cannot stand PFF’s grading system. It is up to each individual as to how much they trust the process which goes into PFF grades, but we will report on the grades for you to make the decision.

Nonetheless, even if you don’t like PFF it does give a baseline to allow fans to see who played well, and who might have been “below the line”, as Mike Tomlin would put it.

Below are the grades for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense from their preseason Week 1 game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday night. For reference sake, the Steelers played 45 defensive snaps.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of snap count)

CB Lafayette Pitts: 97.2 (7 snaps)
OLB Quincy Roche: 83.6 (11 snaps)
CB Justin Layne: 75.9 (24 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 74.0 (24 snaps)
ILB Buddy Johnson: 73.4 (7 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of snap count)

DT Isaiah Buggs: 49.0 (6 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 47.0 (33 snaps)
ILB Marcus Allen: 39.6 (9 snaps)
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III: 34.3 (28 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 27.6 (10 snaps)

Defensive Front Seven

OLB Quincy Roche: 83.6 (11 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 74.0 (24 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 73.1 (20 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 67.1 (13 snaps)
OLB Cassius Marsh: 64.8 (21 snaps)
OLB Jamar Watson: 62.5 (8 snaps)
DT Abdullah Anderson: 61.3 (3 snaps)
DT T.J. Carter: 60.0 (1 snap)
OLB Jamir Jones: 59.6 (26 snaps)
OLB Melvin Ingram III: 55.8 (13 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 52.6 (23 snaps)
DT Carlos Davis: 51.8 (21 snaps)
DT Isaiah Buggs: 49.0 (6 snaps)

If using the typical 15 snap count minimum, more than half the players would have disappeared from the list. Therefore, I included every player who played a snap. If looking at the grades, things are fairly mixed up between the linebackers and defensive line as well as the players who saw a higher number of snaps. The largest gap came between Quincy Roche and the rest of the field of almost 10 points.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Buddy Johnson: 73.4 (7 snaps)
ILB Calvin Bundage: 59.9 (3 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 47.0 (33 snaps)
ILB Marcus Allen: 39.6 (9 snaps)
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III: 34.3 (28 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 27.6 (10 snaps)

While fourth-round draft pick Buddy Johnson graded well in his seven snaps, seeing the grades of the players who played the most snaps so low may be more indicative of the Steelers defensive philosophy in the preseason than it is their performance on the field. With very bland secondary coverages, the inside linebackers have been put in tough positions this preseason. We will see if this continues as the defense implements more of its scheme or if it is a problem with the personnel.

Defensive Backs

CB Lafayette Pitts: 97.2 (7 snaps)
CB Justin Layne: 75.9 (24 snaps)
CB Mark Gilbert: 68.5 (13 snaps)
S Miles Killebrew: 66.5 (21 snaps)
S Lamont Wade: 65.9 (10 snaps)
CB Shakur Brown: 63.2 (5 snaps)
S Donovan Steiner: 60.4 (3 snaps)
CB James Pierre: 59.8 (25 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 56.4 (31 snaps)
CB Cameron Sutton: 55.0 (21 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 53.2 (21 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 50.9 (35 snaps)

With Lafayette Pitts jumping out way above the rest of the crowd, his interception definitely had to favor in to things a lot. If he could hold up this number with a high snap count would really be the question. The highest-rated secondary player who was not the recipient of an interception was UDFA Mark Gilbert who is really making a push to make the 53-man roster. Seeing the five defensive backs who started the game as the bottom five scores is concerning, but it also may go to show the level of the competition they went against.


So, what do you think of the above grades? Were they close, or way off? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.