Steelers Versus Dolphins – First Half Notes And Observations

By Matthew Marczi

  • First play for Cody Wallace: good. Second play: bad. More or less the summary of his first career start. All things considered, I take more positives away from it than negatives.
  • LaMarr Woodley made his first career start on the right side in this game, and although he didn’t stay there the entire game, he did take the majority of his snaps on that side. He got pressure on Ryan Tannehill on third down, which allowed Cameron Heyward to get home for the sack.
  • Nice blocking by Wallace, Mike Adams, and Will Johnson on second and six on the Steelers’ next drive. Opened up a nice crease for Le’Veon Bell to work through for nine yards.
  • Johnson saved Wallace on the next play. Paul Soliai swam past him off the snap, but Johnson picked up the nose tackle and allowed Bell to get around the edge.
  • Later on the drive, the Steelers were facing a third and one and brought in Jonathan Dwyer to get the yardage. He got an assist from Wallace, who grabbed on to his jersey and helped pull him forward for six yards.
  • David DeCastro had his right foot slightly rolled up on toward the end of that drive. He missed practice time this week with a foot injury.
  • There really was some good blocking on that first touchdown drive. I was particularly interested in the amount of work Matt Spaeth got on that drive, which seemed to be the majority of his snaps in the game. He showed well in his first game of the season, not just from a performance standpoint, but from an energy level. The Steelers could have used him this year.
  • Ben Roethlisberger looked accurate early on. His touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders—the record breaker—was a nice one.
  • On third and three, Heyward and Jason Worilds were unable to contain Tannehill in the pocket.
  • On the next play, he took a read-option all the way down to the 15.
  • Ever since being moved to the left side, Worilds has seen an astronomical growth in his play against the run. Two plays after the long Tannehill scramble, he fought off a cut block to make a shoe-string tackle after a one-yard gain.
  • On third down, Jarvis Jones beat Bryant McKinnie to get a hit on Tannehill.
  • I know there was some question during the broadcast about Heyward’s tackle on that play, more specifically as to whether or not it took place inbounds. The coaches film reveals that it was clearly inbounds.
  • Pretty decent form on the body slam as well.
  • Tough break for the Steelers on the ensuing drive, as both Antonio Brown and Heath Miller failed to come up with some catchable passes, resulting in a three-and-out. As Mike Tomlin said, the Steelers did a lot to stop themselves this week on offense. They had the plays to beat the defense.
  • I really don’t think there’s any question at this point that Heyward has become the silent leader of the Steelers’ defensive line. He brings the energy that the rest of the line feeds off of.
  • Free ‘sack’ for Worilds. It was rightfully overturned yesterday.
  • On the next play, Woodley got the better of McKinnie and put a hit on the quarterback, forcing an incomplete pass.
  • Cameron Wake was just a little too much for Marcus Gilbert. His strip sack happened surprisingly quickly.
  • The Dolphins did a great job selling the run on the first touchdown to Charles Clay. Assuming Clay was run blocking, the Steelers shifted coverage to Mike Wallace, which allowed the tight end to get wide open without being picked up by anybody.
  • The deep shot to Antonio Brown on third and three on the Steelers’ ensuing drive was actually a really good look. Brown likely scores if the pass connects. It’s one of those instances where the play call seems stupid if it doesn’t work, but it’s genius if it does.
  • Lawrence Timmons got held on consecutive plays to set the Dolphins up with second and 26.
  • The fault for the blocked punt, in my estimation, goes to the long snapper, Greg Warren. The Dolphins overloaded the rush to his right, but instead, he helped to his left. Robert Golden was left to choose which of two rushers to block.
  • Good effort by William Gay to keep the receiver from getting the first down, forcing the Dolphins to try a long field goal. It at least gave the Steelers a stance to make something happen.
  • Ike Taylor probably should have kept to the left sideline after receiving the ball on the return attempt. It would have had a higher chance of scoring.
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