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Steelers Versus Browns: An All-22 Primer

By Alex Kozora

Unfortunately, the way NFL Rewind is set up, I’m not able to watch the All-22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-27 victory over the Cleveland Browns until Wednesday at noon. With the Steelers playing on Thursday, the timetable is not kind. Dave is going to need to get me some of his iced coffee.

In the meantime, a list of questions – in no particular order – I’ll be paying special attention to answering once I get the chance to comb through the game film.

1. I didn’t get a particularly good feel for who ran where on special teams. Interesting to note that Justin Brown was the next man up at gunner following the Shamarko Thomas injury – not Darrius Heyward-Bey. DHB was on first team kick coverage, however.

2. I’m excited to get good eyes on Le’Veon Bell. Obviously, even watching it the first time through, it was an impressive outing. He showed a better burst and is noticeably quicker than last season. The weight he dropped has a lot to do with it.

3. David DeCastro appeared to have a great game. Want to put him under the microscope against Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor. See if what I saw on the surface matches up on tape.

4. Sticking with the offensive line, let’s see how those four sacks allowed. On the whole, stunt pickup didn’t look bad. Significantly better with where it was at this time last season. Pretty sure Ramon Foster allowed at least one sack after failing to see a linebacker blitz until it was too late.

5. Did Marcus Gilbert struggle as much as it appeared? My gut says yes but we’ll see what the tape uncovers. It’d be disappointing coming off a solid training camp/preseason that parlayed into a shiny new contract.

6. Markus Wheaton came up big today but I want to see him on a play-by-play basis. I’m expecting to see a player who understands the details of the games. Runs to the sticks, settles down versus zone, goes hard every play.

7. Part of this will tease itself out through my charting but did the big runs allowed by the Steelers’ defense come out of nickel or base? It seemed like Pittsburgh was able to stay in its base more often but I’m not positive.

8. Regarding the run defense, what changed between the first and second half? It was obvious the Browns were having a ton of success on zone runs in the second half. Getting to the next level, chopping at the linebackers, and the Steelers’ defense couldn’t work off blocks. Looked ugly the first time through and I imagine it won’t be any prettier the second time around. But I’ll get a good idea of why it went awry.

9. Ryan Shazier had a couple splash plays but as some in the media have already pointed out – and what I saw watching it live – he was maddingly inconsistent. Expecting him to get run out of several plays. Getting off blocks was an issue he had in the preseason.

10. Did Jarvis Jones have any success against Joe Thomas? Safe to say it was minimal but I’ll get a close look at his hand usage/first punch/flexibility against an elite left tackle. I’m pretty sure his sack was aided by good coverage, the defensive backs not biting on a fake dive and end around.

11. For as much hate as he has gotten throughout his career, I’m going to actually enjoy watching William Gay play. It looked like a wonderful performance. Participated on kick coverage and made two tackles and was arguably the MVP of the second half for a defense that looked inept. As Mike Tomlin would refer to it, Gay is as “low maintenance” as they come while possibly playing his best football the last two seasons.

12. What kind of day did Mike Mitchell turn in? Didn’t see much from him. Looked like he did a good job of not getting manipulated and allowing big plays, an area that Ryan Clark struggled in last year. How were Mitchell’s angles to the football?

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