By Tyler Sweet
I have not been this upset and disgusted with a preseason game in a long time, if ever. I must keep reminding myself it is only the preseason. Preseason or not, the Steelers do not look good at all right now.
1st Team Offense
We are beyond beating a dead horse when it comes to discussing the horrific play of the Steelers offensive line. It was literally painful to watch the lack of protection and abundance of penalties (especially in the redzone) that this line continues to commit. When under pressure, Big Ben did a good job of using his legs to avoid the onslaught of Redskins defenders to find the open receiver. But even Ben was making mistakes of his own when he attempted a simple swing pass and was intercepted for a pick 6 by Ryan Kerrigan.
Losing Le’Veon Bell early on to injury was not the start the offensive unit was hoping for. David Paulson for the second week in a row struggled in both pass and run blocking. There were a few good plays and the receivers made several difficult catches, but it seemed that for every good play, they were immediately followed up with 3 terrible plays. Different season, same offensive line.
Overall 1st Team Offense Grade: D
1st Team Defense
The defense knew they were going up against one of the best offensive units in the NFC and it would be a great test early on in the preseason. Jason Worilds was beat on the first play from scrimmage on a simple slant route, and it did not take long for Jarvis Jones to step out on the field in his place. Jarvis Jones looked much more aggressive than he did last week.
He was not hesitant in his decision making and as a result, made some outstanding tackles and blew up a play in the backfield, forcing a fumble. On the left side of the defense, Lamarr Woodley had a sack and looked strong on his bull rush. The secondary continues to be a weak spot on this defensive unit and once again gave up a touchdown in the middle of the field thanks to bad coverage by William Gay. Surprise surprise.
Although the defense gave up a touchdown, turnovers committed by the offense put the defense in a tough spot with a short field to work with. Some bright spots, but still need to keep the ball out of the endzone.
Overall 1st Team Defense Grade: B-
Whether its the first team or second team offensive unit, everything starts and ends with the offensive line. Pressure up front eventually led to a strip fumble committed by Bruce Gradkowski. Jonathan Dwyer had a fumble of his own. The first team receiving core played late in the first half with Gradkowski at quarterback.
Emmanuel Sanders made some outstanding catches and showed great quickness. With a less than stellar performance last week, Landry Jones looked much better as he made some great throws and looked much more comfortable than he had against the Giants. Jones and fellow rookie Markus Wheaton appear to have established a connection and connected on a deep throw along the far sideline in which Wheaton completely blew by the defender. The Steelers finally found the endzone for the first time this preseason when Landry Jones hit Derek Moye for a short touchdown.
Progress was made from last week from the skilled positions but the success of the first and second team offense depends on the production from the offensive line…not good.
Overall Backup Offensive Grade: C
The Secondary gave up a couple huge completions in the final seconds of the first half, leading to a Redskins field goal. Rookie Shamarcko Thomas made a statement with several hard hits and a forced fumble. Devin Smith had an outstanding interception late in the game as well. Throughout the second half, neither team moved the ball too well. Taking over for Rex Grossman in the second half, Pat White ran an affective read option and handed the ball to Roy Helu Jr. who ran 30 yards for a Redskins touchdown. There is no doubt that the defense has areas to improve, but hard hits and forced turnovers are bright spots that Dick Lebeau can be happy with.
Overall Backup Defensive Grade: C+
After the awful display of special teams play against the Giants, simply not turning the ball over would be a significant improvement. The fact that special teams was not noticeable was probably a good thing. No big plays made, and no big plays given up. I’ll take that.
Overall Special Teams Grade: C
Another loss, and another embarrassing outing by the offensive line. I wish i could grade the line completely separate from the rest of the offensive unit. Unfortunately I can’t. More penalties and undisciplined football. Just be thankful its only the preseason.