By Alex Kozora
Game observations from the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-13 loss to the hands of the New York Jets Sunday afternoon.
– Kick coverage unit from L-R. Cortez Allen, Justin Brown, Robert Golden, Terence Garvin, Vince Williams, Shaun Suisham, Sean Spence, Will Johnson, Antwon Blake, Darrius Heyward-Bey, William Gay.
– First play from the Jets. Fake the toss to the right and run an end around with, in a nasty split, Percy Harvin. James Harrison is not going to be able to make a play here and he doesn’t.
– Sean Spence needs to stay on his feet versus screens. Gets cut and falls onto his back. Can’t keep his balance.
– Jets run action on their first drive. Using false run keys to fool the linebackers. Jets pull the left guard and run counter action to that side, holding Harrison. Turns out to be a toss to the offense’s left, away from the toss, for a good gain. Gay needed to make the tackle on the edge though.
– To put it bluntly, Sean Spence may have had one of the worst individual plays of any Steeler in 2014. Immediately off the snap, Spence turns his head to the slot receiver. No attempt at reading any of his run keys. Can’t even say that he was reading Michael Vick of playaction since he didn’t look in the backfield in the first place.
And even by the end of the play, after the tackle, Spence still hasn’t looked for the ball. In the GIF below, you can see him jerk his head at the last moment.
Timmons is supposed to spill that play to Spence but he isn’t there. Ugly play.
– Like the arm extension, power on his bull rush from Arthur Moats. Knocks back D’Brickashaw Ferguson and forces Vick to scramble.
– As shown in the broadcast, Stephon Tuitt washed against this double-team. Jets gain 12.
– KR unit. Front five: Antwon Blake, Terence Garvin, Vince Williams, Robert Golden, Arthur Moats. Matt Spaeth/Michael Palmer, Cody Wallace/Will Johnson making up the wedge, Dri Archer the upback for LeGarrette Blount. Blount was replaced by Markus Wheaton.
– The kick return blocking unit has been an issue all season long but this return falls onto Blount’s shoulders. Triple team with the wedge and Spaeth and lanes to the inside and outside. Blount dances though and winds up being taken down at the 19.
He’d be replaced by Wheaton on the next return.
– Concept used 2-3 times by the Steelers on 3rd and 3. Stack two receivers and have them lined up at a reduced split. Forces off coverage. Run an out/speed out against the off coverage for an easy conversion. Example below.
– Punt coverage: Antwon Blake and Darrius Heyward-Bey the gunners. Along the line: Michael Palmer, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, Will Allen, Robert Golden functioning as the upback, and Brad Wing.
– TJ Graham’s 67 yard TD. Broken down well so I won’t go into any further detail. Appears to be inverted Cover 2 with Vick making a terrific throw.
Playaction so good even the end zone camera guy is fooled.
– Steelers create a scramble lane off their left side for Vick to scramble. Mike Mitchell blitzes off the edge and Jason Worilds spins inside. Run for 18 down to the Steelers’ 3.
– Daniel McCullers will be making his first career start Sunday. And he’s going to need to learn how to get off blocks after he’s already won the battle. Jets’ OL almost completely on the ground. And McCullers is still stuck.
Thought overall, he was more sluggish than I saw him his first few outings.
– Mike Mitchell likely responsible for the Jace Amaro TD. It was a concept the Jets used repeatedly throughout the game. Doubles the flat defender without reading for anything vertical. Poor pattern reading.
– There’s just one defender Wheaton and a potential huge return on Wheaton’s first crack. Wouldn’t it be nice to have, I don’t know, an upback who actually blocks? Time to scrap the idea of having Archer as the upback. Make Blount the upback again and give the KR job to Wheaton full-time.
– Beautiful downfield block on this screen by Maurkice Pouncey to spring Le’Veon Bell.
– One possible issue for the failures of some of these screens. Marcus Gilbert not being aggressive enough to attack the DL. Allows him to freely read the play instead of being engaged and makes the tackle easily.
– One of the few holes opened up in the running game (this drive produced 23 of the teams’ 36 rushing yards on the afternoon). Pouncey double-teaming Sheldon Richardson. Knocks the DE off balanced and then pancakes him to the ground. Gain of six.
– Only Ben Roethlisberger can manage to pull this off. Throwing the ball while going to the ground. Complete for a pickup of five.
– With Heath Miller sealing the linebacker, Will Johnson needs to work through the hole and pick up the remaining defender – the safety.
– Gilbert late to crash into the penetrator on this stunt. As the tackle sees the looper, his crash and verbal communication are the tells for the guard to pick up that looper. Gilbert is a little late here. Allows pressure and forces a checkdown. Especially disappointing when there were open options downfield.
– Impressive individual effort from Lawrence Timmons to catch up to Harvin along the sideline on this end around. Harvin in motion pre-snap, a lot of linebackers wouldn’t be able to catch him.
– So we don’t forget the heady play made by Cam Heyward to run across the field and recover this loose ball, even if it was ultimately ruled not to be a fumble. Heart, hustle, and football IQ.
– PR unit: Antwon Blake/Darrius Heyward-Bey and sometimes Brice McCain used as jammers. Others. Cortez Allen, Sean Spence, Will Allen, William Gay, Dri Archer, BW Webb, and Robert Golden.
– Marcus Gilbert clubbed and knocked off balance. Allows pressure.