Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-19 win over the Green Bay Packers.
– Kick coverage. Boykin-Golden-Wild-Garvin-Dupree-Hartley-Spence-Johnson-Dangerfield-Darby-Will Allen
– The Packers spent their entire first drive in 20 personnel, two running backs and zero tight ends, leaving them with three receivers. Forced the Steelers into nickel the entire drive, spread them out horizontally, and gashed them. It’s a generic concept but the best way to carve up the Steelers.
– Steelers responded by putting Shamarko Thomas into the box with single high, Cover 3 heavy defenses. Here’s Shamarko coming in unblocked and filling the alley.
– Hard to show on the TV tape but Randall Cobb’s 30 yard completion was definitely a sail route against Cover 3. Vertical + corner + flat combination route to flood one side of the defense. Antwon Blake has to carry #1 vertical, leaving #2 wide open on the corner route.
Isn’t the exact same design but I drew up the overall concept during the offseason.
– Stephon Tuitt had a great game against the run until he injured his ankle. Gets full arm extension, powerful punch and wins with leverage, sets the edge, forcing the run inside.
– Like I wrote about in the Jacksonville Jaguars game, the Steelers were again caught playing Tampa 2 against a draw. Sean Spence immediately starts to get depth after reading his initial pass keys only to be caught out of position once he realizes it’s a run. Lot of ground for John Kuhn to cover until meeting the linebacker well into the second level. It’s going to be an issue throughout the season.
– Eddie Lacy touchdown. Packers again in 20 personnel, Steelers in nickel. With Ryan Shazier dropping immediately to cover the #2 receiver, the DB rolled up blitzed, he has no chance of making an impact. Nickel makes it easy for the center to double-team Tuitt, leaving only Spence against the fullback to make an impact. No chance of him being able to make a play. Good scheme by the Packers, bad scheme by the Steelers. Results in an easy six.
– Le’Veon Bell provided a chip to knock down this blitzing linebacker but Ramon Foster’s active eyes squeezed him and let Bell do so. Credit really starts with the lineman.
– Quick example of slide protection. Half slide. Rule is the first uncovered lineman starts the slide with man blocking from the covered lineman. Maurkice Pouncey is the first uncovered OL so he starts the slide with Kelvin Beachum and Foster man blocking.
– Punt coverage unit: Antwon Blake and Shamarko Thomas the starting gunners. Robert Golden the upback. Ian Wild and Will Allen the wings. On the line: Will Johnson, Arthur Moats, Terence Garvin, Greg Warren, and Sean Spence.
– Kick return unit: Anthony Chickillo, Sean Spence, Robert Golden, Terence Garvin, Will Johnson, Jesse James, Cody Wallace, and Sammie Coates as the upback for Dri Archer.
– I get why Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball on this RPO. It’s only a six man box, which should signal run, but with the linebackers rolled up on the LOS, there’s no way this power run will work. The pulling guard creates a gap and easy penetration, which is what winds up happening. It went for a short loss but better to put Antonio Brown one-on-one with a corner. Higher chance of success.
– Punt return unit: Alden Darby/Brandon Boykin one set of jammers with Darrius Heyward-Bey and Antwon Blake another pair. On the line: Garvin, Ryan Shazier, Golden, Johnson, Arthur Moats, and Spence.
– Heath Miller showing that veteran IQ. Sits down initially then runs away from the linebacker, getting open and picking up the first down.
– Wings on the field goal unit: Jesse James and Howard Jones.
– Dupree has to be more disciplined here. Gives up the edge. Shamarko Thomas is your alley fill so there’s no reason to crash down. Keep the edge and force the RB into the alley. Lacy bounces outside, gets the edge, and runs for a nice gain.
– Second-team offensive line. Mitchell Van Dyk, Cody Wallace, Chris Hubbard, B.J. Finney, Alejandro Villanueva.
– Will Johnson came in at tight end before James.
– Major props to DeAngelo Williams for cutting the defensive tackle rushing free up the middle. Kept Bruce Gradkowski free.
Looks like Finney doesn’t notice the late pre-snap shift from the Packers. Doesn’t notice the DT, picking up the blitzing linebacker instead. Should have been the back’s responsibility on the linebacker, the guard on the DT. Much better matchups for both.
– Van Dyk doubling over on his punch. Doesn’t have a strong inside base and opens his inside leg, letting the defender through with relative ease.
– Sammie Coates and Brandon Boykin mixed in as the second-team gunners.
– Boykin with an obviously stupid play to tackle the return man who had signaled fair catch. That’s a rookie play from a veteran.
– Same blitz from Keith Butler. Blitz Shamarko Thomas, drop the NT and the away side linebacker into coverage. Linebacker acts as the overhang defender to take away anything hot to that side while the NT, Daniel McCullers, engulfs the running back to eliminate the checkdown option. Shark swoops in for a sack.
– Nice bend around the edge from Dupree here.
– Finney with no burst on his pull. More of a bounce than a pull. Just can’t move laterally.
– Richard Rodgers’ touchdown at the end of the half. Clear miscommunication with Shamarko Thomas. He buzzes into the flat despite Terence Garvin already being the curl/flat defender. No one to cover the deep half and it’s an easy touchdown.
Sean Spence and Shamarko Thomas immediately look and talk to each other after the play.
If that was truly Shark’s fault, that’s two touchdowns given up in two games. Coverage remains a concern.
– Daniel McCullers solo blocked in pass protection, uses his strength to collapse the pocket.
– You can see the veteran Terence Garvin reading his keys a lot better than the young Ian Wild. Reads pass much quicker than Wild. Wild is caught out of position and has to bail to try and recover.
– Shakim Phillips served as the upback for Kenzel Doe as part of the second-team return unit.
– Collin Rahrig was the next man up to replace Wallace at left guard.
– Second half punt coverage. Sammie Coates and Doran Grant the gunners. Alden Darby the upback. Roosevelt Nix and Jordan Dangerfield the wings. On the line: Howard Jones, Shayon Green, Greg Warren, Anthony Chickillo, and Jesse James.
– Jammers on the first punt return unit of the second half. Pair of Kevin Fogg and Coates plus Phillips and Grant.
– Van Dyk beat around the edge. Rahrig gets swam over. Left side of the line collapses. Ugly.
– Nose tackle swimming over center Hubbard to stop Jawon Chisholm at the line.
– Nix continues to make his mark on special teams. Had a registered tackle on a kick return and was also the first to trip up a punt returner, though I don’t think he got the official tackle.
– Nice close from Wild. Asked to get depth in Tampa 2 then has to rally against the run. Works off the block well and makes the tackle.
– Hubbard misses a stunt. Landry Jones is sacked.
– Like how quickly Coates got back to his feet after his diving catch late in the third quarter. Heady.
– The next sack wasn’t Hubbard’s fault. Felt like Villanueva never heard the switch call on the stunt, fails to pick up the crasher, who shimmies through.
– Chickillo sets the edge while Garvin shoots through and makes the tackle for loss in the backfield. Great plays all around.
– Another jammer pairing. Phillips/Grant and Fogg/Gerod Holliman.
– Fogg and Doran Grant gunners on the first punt of the fourth quarter.
– Wing roughing the punter penalty. Pressure came up the middle. Wasn’t a slide protection issue. Everything should have been picked up. Greg Warren just couldn’t slide quickly enough to pick up his man.
– Two things to note on the same play. B.J. Finney with a solid second level block.
But Coates has yet to show more aggressiveness as a run blocker, allowing the corner to win inside and make the stop.
– Nice stunt pickup from left tackle Kelvin Palmer.
– Jordan Dangerfield makes his second tackle in as many plays. Though it didn’t affect the play, I love the way Wild flew in and uncoiled on the fullback. Playing inside/out.
– Nix needed to reroute and work off the inside hip of Finney instead of trying to go wide. Ends up not being involved in the play at all.
– Palmer had a rough day moving laterally. Beat around the edge really bad.
– Nice adjustment in the air by Shakim Phillips.
– Kick coverage after Tyler Murphy’s touchdown. From left to right. Fogg-Grant-Nix-Green-Coates-Hartley-Chickillo-Howard Jones-Webb-Darby-Phillips
– Kudos to Fogg for being proactive on this kick coverage. Instead of being passive and continuing to back up, he splits the two blockers and knifes in to make the tackle.
– Niko Davis got a lot of playing time and responded well. Played his heart out. Killer swim move. Also love the hustle out of L.T. Walton, his calling card at Central Michigan.
– Best thing I saw from Murphy was his YAC. Led to a touchdown and a long gain on a 3rd and six conversion.
– Ray Hamilton using his hands before his feet. Doesn’t seal the gap and the linebacker squeezes through, getting into the backfield.
– Chickillo showing those counters. Initial rush up the edge and then plants his outside foot to win inside, blowing by the right tackle.
– Doran Grant showing some real athleticism, finding, high-pointing, and knocking the ball away. Dangerfield nearly came away with the pick.
– Punter hangtimes. Missed one of Wing’s because the director cut to the action too late.
Jordan Berry: 4.70, 4.80, 5.10
Brad Wing: 4.87, 4.75, 4.60.