By Tyler Sweet
Make it stop! Watching the Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 preseason was one of the most painful things to watch. That was, until I watched the game yesterday against the Tennessee Titans. Before we get into my grades for the game, let me just say that the loss of Maurkice Pouncey, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and Larry Foote are extremely unfortunate and a big blow to this team.
The grades I will put on an offensive and defensive unit throughout this season are based soley on the play on the field, with no hypothetical, “well if this guy were healthy” statements. As bad as they are, injuries remain a part of the game and there are no handicap points given out due to the loss of a key player. With that being said, lets take a look at the offensive unit.
The play calling of Todd Haley makes me scratch my head sometimes. Shotgun with four wide receivers on first down seems to be a Steeler staple the past few years and I have no idea why. I understand the running game is not exactly up to par with what fans want to see, but you have got to keep the defense guessing and respect the run game for what it is. With a first down interception, first down reverse, and multiple first down incomplete passes, it does nothing but kill the drive before it even starts. Even when he was not under pressure, Ben Roethlisberger missed several throws to his receivers and looked flustered and out of sync. When the Steelers managed to get inside the redzone on the first drive, Isaac Redman coughed the ball up into the endzone for a touchback. With only 195 total yards and only 32 of those coming via the run game, this was one of the worst offensive outings by the Steelers in recent memory. Offensive Grade: D- (One late touchdown away from an F)
The defense in my opinion played well. Despite not forcing a turnover, the defense held the Titans to a total of 229 yards. What played well into the Steelers favor is the fact that the Titans tend to lean on the run game more than the pass game. The explosive Chris Johnson was held to 70 yards on 25 carries. I will take that any day. What the defense struggled with was allowing a mediocre quarterback in Jake Locker to make plays in key situations down the field. It makes me nervous to think that if someone like Locker can pick apart the Steelers defensive secondary and put his team in field goal position consistently, what will Andy Dalton and A.J. Green be capable of doing next week. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Too many plays given up on 3rd down, but overall, a good outing by the defense. Defensive Grade: B+
After an absolutely horrendous preseason, the special teams finally made a big play! In what may have been the fastest score in NFL history, Titans returner Darius Reynaud took a knee on the opening kickoff with his foot on the goaline, ultimately awarding the Steelers with a safety. Other than that, not too much to be excited or disappointed with. Special Teams Grade: C
These are my grades for week 1. I would love to hear your opinions on both my grades and your grades for week 1. Comment below or tweet us! @SteelersGab or @Tylersweet87