The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Friday night when they traveled to the Carolina Panthers in the third official week of NFL preseason action. The Steelers were losers 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: 8 tackles, 5 solo, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits
There weren’t many players who popped off the screen for the Steelers vs. the Panthers Friday night, but Jamir Jones was one of them. Many were talking about his missed tackle for loss, but on the night at least he was in position to make the play. In my opinion, Jones’ performance Friday was just the cherry on top of a really great preseason. Jones makes the team.
Stat Line: Didn’t even play
Was Dwayne Haskins that bad? Yep. Rudolph is a winner based on the fact Haskins fell so hard he should be confident his job is safe. If Ben Roethlisberger were to go down, for any length of time, Rudolph will get the first shot at being the quarterback.
Stat Line: 4 tackles, 3 solo, 1 TFL
I tweeted during the game how Pierre’s name was being said a lot during the broadcast, and many responded with a response like this, “You shouldn’t hear a cornerback’s name a lot!” But Pierre proved he is a willing tackler, and I love that in a cornerback. I’m not sure how the Steelers will utilize Pierre this season, but he’ll be used no doubt.
Stat Line: 5 tackles, 1 solo, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QB hit
I always knew Loudermilk was going to have a spot on the 53-man roster. A team doesn’t trade away future draft capital to move back into the 5th round of the 2021 NFL Draft just to cut the player. But Loudermilk has been a pleasant surprise this preseason. He had a solid game, and while he is not going to be an immediate impact player, you can see his potential of being a game wrecker in a few years.
Stat Line: 1 reception, 18 yards, 2 targets / 1 rush, 11 yards
Claypool didn’t set the world on fire, but I wanted to see how his ankle has responded after missing just over a week of practice. Claypool looked great both running the ball and receiving. He’s back, and looks ready for a breakout season in 2021.
Stat Line: 9/16, 108 yards, 6.8 average, 1 TD 1 INT, 0 sacks, 71.9 Rating
I don’t know what else to say which hasn’t been said already, but if Haskins wasn’t re-inserted into the lineup due to Josh Dobbs’ injury, his stat line would be even more horrific. Not a good showing for Haskins, but if you are wondering if the Steelers will give up on the former first round pick, you better think again. It was just one outing, a preaseason game and not even a full game.
Stat Line: 2 returns, -2 yards, 2 fumbles
Sexton’s fumbles likely sealed his fate with the team, but I have a feeling the young man was just trying to make a play. It was going to be an uphill battle for him to make the roster, but he wasn’t going to make a name for himself by fair catching punts. He took some risks, and didn’t receive the rewards. Such is life in the NFL.
3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 2-for-11 on 3rd downs
This ties in with Haskins’ poor play, but the entire offense was bad Friday night. It wasn’t just one player. 2-for-11 on 3rd downs? As Mike Tomlin would say, “That’s Junior Varsity football.” Couldn’t agree more.
Stat Line: 3 total, 2 fumbles and 1 INT
It’s just a preseason game, but you can’t expect to win many games when you turn the ball over three times. Some will argue Derek Watt should have caught the pass which deflected off his hands, it doesn’t matter. When the ball ends up in the opposition’s hands, how it got there is null and void.
Mike Tomlin Challenges
Stat Line: 0-for-2
I always joke on Twitter about Mike Tomlin losing challenges, even ones he looks like he will win. That happened again Friday night. In hindsight, it just seemed like one of those nights where if it could go wrong, it went wrong. Even Coach T’s challenges.
If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!