Steelers Fall Flat Vs. Eagles
Another week, another depressing report. I will look hard for bright spots, because the score of 17-0, Eagles, tells you the bright spots are not terribly obvious.
I took careful notes, and I could go through them for you, but actually the game can be condensed thusly:
- The Good News: No three-and-outs
- The Bad News: They weren’t necessary for the Eagles’ defense, as they intercepted Jones four times.
- The Good News: No interceptions from Dustin Vaughan
- The Bad News: No points from Dustin Vaughan either.
Okay, that was fun. (Not.) Here’s a bit more detail.
First half—quarterbacked entirely by Landry Jones. No Brown, Bell, or DeWill, but most of the offensive starters were in for a good bit. Marcus Gilbert didn’t play again, so Ryan Harris was at right tackle. Maurkice Pouncey played a couple of series and then gave way to Cody Wallace.
Although Landry Jones was picked off four times, they were by no means entirely his fault. Mike Tomlin didn’t blame him in the little “shove a mic in his face and make the coach say something before the second half” moment. And I think it’s fair to say two of the interceptions were good plays on the part of the Eagles’ defense.
In the “good news” category, two of the interceptions were in the end zone. Why is this good news? Because at the least the offense got that far down the field, which is an improvement from last week. Two of the four interceptions didn’t result in any points, which is also, I suppose, good news. In fact, you could credit the defense for holding the Eagles to only 10 points in the first half. The Eagles’ offense, run by Sam Bradford for the entire half, certainly had plenty of opportunities.
In other good news, Sammie Coates looked much better this week, and his catch at the sideline going up for the ball and getting both feet in was really encouraging.
But of course it was quite discouraging to watch the offense engineer a 8+ minute drive and come away with nothing due to an interception in the end zone. By the time Landry Jones left the field after the fourth interception, his face said it all—he just wanted to go home, go to bed, and wake up the next morning to find it was all a hideous dream. Had this been a game that counted, he would have had plenty of company in Steeler Nation. (He may anyhow.)
As for the second half, there were a lot more punts and kick returns for Danny Smith to watch his coverage teams, and they looked a great deal better than last week. The few good returns the Eagles managed were called back by penalties on their special teams. Not that the Steelers played a penalty-free game—far from it. However, the sole special teams penalty was a hand to the face mask by Demarcus Ayres on the guy trying to tackle him.
Dustin Vaughan had a few nice throws and a few good moments. Frankly, had he been playing with the first-team offensive line he might have looked better. He was sacked three times (Jones was not sacked at all), and at least two of them were given up by Chris Hubbard.
He does have a Ben-like tendency to hold the ball too long—supposedly William Gay actually yelled at him at practice about that. I would have to go back and watch them to see how much much responsibility he had for the sacks, and I’m afraid I can’t bring myself to do that.
A couple of guys made a positive impression. Tyler Matakevich had a couple of big plays, including a big tackle for loss. He’s relentless. Montell Garner loosened up the ball for what turned out to be the sole Steelers takeaway, a forced fumble near the end of the game. Doran Grant recovered it. Alas, it went for naught. Shamarko Thomas had a number of good plays, although he had a few missed tackles as well. If Shamarko has finally more or less figured it out, that would be a very unexpected bonus.
Eli Rogers had a good game. Cobi Hamilton had mixed reviews. He had some big drops but also a couple of big catches, including a very athletic one-handed catch just in-bounds for a conversion. Daryl Richardson and Fitz Toussaint combined for 41 yards on 18 carries. Both also had catches for decent yardage. Neither reminded me of Le’Veon Bell.
Arthur Moats had the sole sack. However, Butler wasn’t blitzing much, particularly in the second half.
Overall, this is not a game I wish to dwell upon. If any of you have encouragement to offer, please do so.
Tyler Matakevich! I can certainly see him becoming a cult hero in Pittsburgh.
I think he’s already there,
I heard somewhere this morning that the preseason is about individual performance, not team performance. This morning Wolfley said that if you watch a preseason game as a game, you’ll be disappointed, but if you watch it with a scouting eye, watching certain players to see how they play, it will be interesting. I’m paraphrasing, not direct quotes.
Both of those apply to this game in a big way. It seems to me that Coach T uses these games to evaluate players even more than most other teams. Other teams seem to get excited about the game, Tomlin gets excited (as excited as he gets anyway) about a player making a good play. He will get his backups in against the opponents first team as much as he can. Some coaches are concerned about winning because their teams need to learn how to win, that’s not the case in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen Coach T put second or third team players into bad situations to see how they do.
David Todd said in the post game show that in the last 15 preseason games the Steelers are 2-13. I have to approve of Tomlins methods, because it seems to work. He could keep the stars out for the entire preseason and they wouldn’t miss a beat and the players who need the reps are getting them. But it sure makes these games tough to watch. I like the preseason games, and even I was yawning in the second half last night.
Absolutely agree. For instance, Charlie Batch commented when the third team was in that Butler wasn’t blitzing because he wanted to see how the guys could handle runs up the middle, or something to that effect. On one level I understand that the Steelers coaching staff are using these games as a way to see who separates themselves, and this may well include putting guys in a position way outside their comfort level. It’s just difficult, as a fan, to watch your team being mowed down