Steelers Vs Jaguars First Half Notes And Observations

Author’s Note: I’ve spent the better part of the past week nursing a pair of severe ear infections, a sore throat, and as I’ve deduced yesterday, a spider bite. As such it’s been difficult for me to get too in-depth on game tape during that time, hence why my work breaking down the film from the previous preseason game has come so late in the process.

The Pittsburgh Steelers played their second preseason game a week ago today, falling 23-21 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Below are my notes and observations of the first half after having reviewed the game tape.

  • On the second play of the game, the Steelers had Le’Veon Bell flex out wide with Antonio Brown in the slot beside him. The fact that Bell actually runs an elaborate route tree is really what separates him from most other running backs.
  • He certainly commanded the respect of the defensive back, who played him eight yards off at the snap and was caught backpedaling seven yards back when Bell sat down to catch a pass in the flat.
  • On Bell’s long run, Matt Spaeth sealed off the running lane. The veteran tight end had a much more consistent outing this time.
  • On the following play, Roosevelt Nix completely whiffed as he attempted to block a defender already engaged by David DeCastro. If the converted fullback has one standout issue in his game, it’s his tendency to take his eyes off his target. On this occasion, he basically took himself out of the play, which in part resulted in just a two-yard gain.
  • The long touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant came off play action, which is something that Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have been underutilizing, and I would like to see more of this season.
  • The Jaguars initially dropped eight in coverage against a five-wide set for the two-point conversion try. The lack of pressure gave Roethlisberger extensive time to find a target without much movement in the pocket.
  • The Jaguars returned the ensuing kickoff out to the 37, but upon further review, Anthony Chickillo certainly got mugged, which should have drawn a holding call without question.
  • Safety Shamarko Thomas, playing his first snap of the year, blitzed off the right edge on first down. The Steelers were caught stunting, with Arthur Moats coming inside on a run off the offensive right edge.
  • Facing a two tight end set to the right on the following play, Moats dropped back to inside linebacker depth to show the 4-3 look that we’ve seen with regularity through the first two games. Blake Bortles rolled out to the opposite end to find his tight end, but William Gay did an excellent job cutting him down.
  • Thomas blitzed off the left side of the defense on third down.
  • Third-year quarterback Landry Jones gets a rare opportunity to play with most of the first-team offensive line. He may do so again on Sunday.
  • The first play for Jones features a three tight end set, including Spaeth, the rookie Jesse James, and Will Johnson, who lined up primarily at tight end throughout the game.
  • Brad Wing’s first punt goes about 50 yards with almost 45 yards of net, thanks to a special teams tackle from Nix.
  • Of the first-team defensive personnel, only the outside linebackers switch out for the second drive. Bud Dupree attempts to counter a failed inside cut with a spin to the outside while he is still on the right tackle’s inside shoulder and ends up just getting pushed to the ground.
  • On the plus side of the Steelers giving up yardage on the ground, Sean Spence showed multiple times the abilities to shed blockers and get in on a tackle.
  • The strip sack from James Harrison was not only vintage, but textbook, and needs little comment.
  • After the Jaguars converted a third down, the defense switched some of the personnel, with Jarvis Jones coming back on the field, who sealed the edge and made the primary tackle on a short gain.
  • More switching, and Dupree was fooled on a fake handoff that allowed Bortles to roll out safely and make an easy completion.
  • On the following play, Ryan Shazier knifed in to cut down the running back in the hole. He was seemingly everywhere on the field.
  • On a short pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey on the first play of Jones’ second drive, DeAngelo Williams made a nice cut block on a free rusher.
  • On a carry later on the drive, Nix led a great clear out block on a linebacker to open up a lane for Williams. On the blocks in which he can go straight ahead and use his size, he can be impressive.
  • Shazier missed an open field tackle on the first play of the Jaguars’ next drive. If he can clean up his occasional misses such as these…
  • Bortles was able to scramble for a touchdown because Jones chose an inopportune moment to free himself with an inside spin move near the goal line when his more pertinent responsibility was to hold containment.
  • All second-team personnel now in for the offense midway through the second quarter, with the exception of Bryant, who is targeted on the first pass for five yards.
  • Nix with his second special teams tackle, although Wing was also in on it, which means that his punt coverage failed him.
  • Thomas was later getting over for a long touchdown pass late in the first half. He and a few other young defensive starters were still in the game, which is not surprising.
  • As has been a theme, Chris Hubbard struggled on the final drive of the half, allowing pressure and contributing to a third down sack.
  • Sammie Coates did well as a gunner to get down the field and force the returner off his mark, resulting in the Steelers downing the ball at the 11.
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