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Blockers and runners top the Steelers offensive Pro Football Focus grades in Week 17

In the grades provided by PFF, it was the contributors to the running game who scored the highest.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a big night at Heinz Field on Monday night. Several weaknesses the Steelers have experienced this season showed up as strengths as the ground game carried the offense and the defense held the Browns in check. Not only did the running game put up 190 yards, the Steelers kept the Browns potent rushing attack under the century mark while notching nine sacks.

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 17 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 only 81 snaps on offense in Week 17.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

FB Derek Watt: 80.8 (5 snaps)
G Trai Turner: 80.6 (67 snaps)
TE Kevin Rader: 73.9 (5 snaps)
RB Najee Harris: 78.0 (78 snaps)
G John Leglue: 73.7 (81 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

WR James Washington: 52.9 (15 snaps)
WR Diontae Johnson: 51.4 (72 snaps)
G Joe Haeg: 49.3 (15 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 45.7 (81 snaps)
QB Ben Roethlisberger: 42.8 (81 snaps)


Quarterback

QB Ben Roethlisberger: 42.8 (81 snaps)

Based on the fact Roethlisberger had 24 completions for only 123 yards, it’s no surprise his score was at the bottom for the offense. But Monday nights victory wasn’t about Roethlisbergers’ statistics but more about his leadership and teammates rallying to his cause to send him off of Heinz Field on a high note.

Running Backs

FB Derek Watt: 80.8 (5 snaps)
RB Najee Harris: 78.0 (78 snaps)
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 55.1 (3 snaps)

Some might be surprised to see Derek Watt top the offense with his five snaps, but it was what he did in his limited time which really stood out. Yes, he converted a short fourth down run, but he also made fantastic blocks on several Najee Harris runs. Harris also scored well on the night as he saw his most rushing yards in an individual game and his highest single game PFF score on the season. Additionally, Harris also had his highest pass blocking score of the year with an 86.9 for the game.

Receivers

TE Kevin Rader: 73.9 (5 snaps)
WR Ray-Ray McCloud: 67.4 (53 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 60.2 (62 snaps)
TE Zach Gentry: 57.0 (41 snaps)
WR Chase Claypool: 53.9 (71 snaps)
WR James Washington: 52.9 (15 snaps)
WR Diontae Johnson: 51.4 (72 snaps)

It’s fair to say that the receivers did not have a good night against the Browns. Whether their scores were due to Ben Roethlisberger or his low score was because of his receivers is open to debate. But the fact the only player in the top five from this group was a tight end who played five snaps, all of which were run blocking snaps, tells you that it was not about the Steelers passing attack which gave them success against Cleveland.

Offensive Line

G Trai Turner: 80.6 (67 snaps)
G John Leglue: 73.7 (81 snaps)
C J.C. Hassenauer: 72.7 (81 snaps)
OT Chuks Okorafor: 62.0 (80 snaps)
G Joe Haeg: 49.3 (15 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 45.7 (81 snaps)

A lot of Steelers fans have been complaining about Trai Turner and thought that he was terrible in this game, yet PFF has him as the second-highest offensive player. What helped Turner’s score was an 85.9 run blocking score which was best on the team by far and was in the top 15 of the NFL offensive linemen for the week.

Once again, I’m going to take some time to talk about rookie left tackle Dan Moore Jr. Although his score had him almost completely at the bottom for the team, it wasn’t surprising based on how PFF scored Moore the last time the Steelers played the Cleveland Browns. The fact that Moore was getting the job done to where Myles Garrett could not get home doesn’t equate to success in their eyes as he must “win the battle over his opponent” on every play to get a positive score. I guess PFF’s definition of winning is different when it comes to grades than what actually contributes to winning on the field. To show how much the score is biased by PFF‘s adoration of Myles Garrett is evidenced when looking at a score on Cleveland’s offense. Right tackle James Hudson for the Browns scored a 50.9 for the game. Even though Moore gave up no sacks and had no penalties in the game, he still scored lower than Hudson who gave up multiple sacks to T.J. Watt and a sack to Derrek Tuszka as well as having a penalty called against him. Just looking at the eye test comparing these two players on opposite sides of the line, the scores do not hold up. But PFF is going to give a “win” to Myles Garrett anytime they can, so naturally Dan Moore is going to get chalked with a “loss” on plays where he shouldn’t.


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.