My game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers 43-19 loss against the Buffalo Bills.
– Kick return unit. The front five: L.J. Fort, Bud Dupree, Shayon Green, Alden Darby, and Jordan Dangerfield. Ian Wild/Jesse James a pairing with L.T. Walton and Roosevelt Nix forming the wedge. Josh Harris served as the upback for Dri Archer. That’s likely your week one upback/returner pairing.
– Green and Darby blocking the same man on the opening return, one of many issues on this play. Archer was only able to make it back to the 16.
– Why I really like Kelvin Beachum. Shoves the talented Jerry Hughes way upfield. Lateral movement while keeping a sound base.
– Cody Wallace gave up a sack in his second snap in pass protection. Corbin Bryant swims over him to take down Ben Roethlisberger.
– First team punt coverage: Sammie Coates and Brandon Boykin the starting gunners. Alden Darby, not Robert Golden or Ian Wild, the starting upbacks. On the line: Fort, Anthony Chickillo, Vince Williams, Wild, Roosevelt Nix, and Green.
– Fred Jackson’s long run to start the game. Walton and Vince Williams sealed inside. Ryan Shazier stuck at the second level. William Gay steamrolled in the third. You can blame Will Allen’s angle all you want, truthfully it isn’t that bad given all the room Jackson has to cut the run back, but there is a lot more going wrong before you get to the safety.
– DeAngelo Williams’ touchdown. Power O with Nix and David DeCastro pulling. Always a risk to pull lineman on the goal line because of the gaps it creates. Steelers solve it by asking Marcus Gilbert to cut the three tech. Much easier to cut than it is to try and scoop block it.
– Kick coverage from left to right: Kevin Fogg, Doran Grant, Roosevelt Nix, Shayon Green, Sammie Coates, Garrett Hartley, Anthony Chickillo, L.J Fort, Jordan Dangerfield, Alden Darby, Jordan Sullen.
– Bud Dupree with no hand use. Inside rush and is easily sealed by the long-armed Seantrel Henderson.
– Mike Vick still with an incredible arm. 63 yard completion to Martavis Bryant traveled 48 yards in the air. Made it look effortless.
– Third and goal incompletion. Sure, Bryant needed to run through that but the timing of it is off. Vick takes too long to get the ball out. Bryant has already gotten his head around and the ball isn’t close to coming out. It happens to a QB who hasn’t played in awhile. Gotta get back in a rhythm.
– Third and 16 toss right. Basically a wham block from Matt Spaeth on Mario Williams while Marcus Gilbert pulls into space.
Also of note on this play is Markus Wheaton’s finish. Pancakes the corner on his stalk block. Love the tenacity, especially on a play that he probably knows isn’t going to end in a conversion.
– Walton and Steve McLendon struggling to take on these blocks from an angle. Base blocks are one thing but these down blocks when you get hit in the earhole is a testament to balance. Walton on the ground and McLendon uncharacteristically blown out.
– First team punt return. Fogg/Coates jammers to one side. Boykin/Darby to the other. On the lie: Nix-Wild-Dupree-Fort-Green-James
– Archer with his second muffed punt of the preseason. And this was with no one even in frame. Antonio Brown almost certainly going to be the starting punt returner in 2015.
– Second-team offensive line: Mitchell Van Dyk–Collin Rahrig–Chris Hubbard–B.J. Finney–Alejandro Villanueva
– Love the heart and effort shown by Josh Harris and Finney on Bryant’s long catch and run. Harris even managed to throw a late block while Finney got on his horse as soon as Bryant made the catch. High marks to both of them.
– But Harris had his issues in pass protection. BoB protection, six on six. Harris late recognizing and picking up the outside linebacker off the offense’s right side, allowing the sack. On third and nine in the red zone, this was a killer.
– Chris Hubbard with a poor, floaty snap on 4th and 17. Struggles with his consistency, and makes it hard to trust him. Not even about ability to block or move. About the basic fundamentals.
– James Harrison takes on the block, sheds it, and makes the tackle.
– Robert Golden embraces the run as well as you could hope out of a safety. Works inside of the receiver trying to crack him, forcing the guard to double-team him. Leaves Ryan Shazier and Antwon Blake free. Blake spills the run inside to Shazier.
– Speaking of the second-year linebacker, Shazier’s instincts and speed on full display here. Shoots through to fill and make the tackle. If he doesn’t get there, there’s a big lane for the back and only Shamarko Thomas – playing pretty shallow – with a chance to stop him.
– More poor stunt pickup from Villanueva and Finney. Crasher into Villanueva sends the right tackle off balance while Finney never works off his man and the looper, Mario Williams, wins inside. Poor communication, a trend from those two.
Also frustrating that Chris Hubbard doesn’t give help. That’s his side, part of his triangle read, and for a moment, he looks away into the middle of the field, where there’s predictably no one. I don’t know what he was thinking. At no point there was a threat to that area. By the time he gets his eyes back to that side, Williams has blown by.
– Landry Jones’ touchdown to Martavis Bryant was money. Jones has struggled with his longer drops but this is a good display. Seven step drop with a hitch, all in rhythm.
– Missed tackle by Jarvis Jones turns this one-yard gain into a five yard gain. Goes from a would-be 3rd and 7 to 3rd and 3. That’s unacceptable.
– Looks like miscommunication in their spot drops between Sean Spence and Jarvis Jones. Ended up in the same spot. Slant to the right side wide open to move the sticks.
– Ethan Hemer nearly beats Richie Incognito, the guard is totally overextended, but he can’t shed and get upfield. Hemer has good hand use, but is stiff and slow.
– Collin Rahrig with a wasted step on this draw. He punches the tackle upfield but then slide steps to the left for no reason. Lets the DT cross his face and get back into the play.
– Opening kick coverage: B.W. Webb, Gerod Holliman, Shakim Phillips, Howard Jones, Josh Harris, Jesse James, Kevin Fogg, Braylon Heard, and Tyler Murphy.
– Coates goes the opposite way of Kenzel Doe on this kick return. Doesn’t block anyone, clearly not on the same page. Not a surprise Doe didn’t even make it out to the 20.
– Kevin Fogg with a great chasedown on the returner on the Steelers first punt of the second half. Had to work through a double vice and made a ferocious tackle.
– Vince Williams and Terence Garvin attack the same gap, leaving no one to fill the backside B gap, where the RB hits and rattles off a 22 yard gain.
– On the Tobias Palmer 37 yard TD, Alden Darby executes a speed turn to try and get in-phase with the receiver. But his angle is too flat with the receiver running vertically. Tries to turn again but is out of position and can’t find the ball.
– I know it’s minor but I’m sure Danny Smith squealed in glee at Anthony Chickillo staying square to the backside and offering good contain on this punt return. He preached it almost every day.
– Jordan Dangerfield needs to get more depth with there being no flat defender. Corner route is complete for a nice gain.
– Josh Harris with an ugly game. Two sacks allowed, one drop, and a false start on special teams.
– Jesse James pitted against the DE with no help. Terrible mismatch and James nearly gets Landry Jones killed.
– L.J. Fort scraping to become the edge defender. Works off the block and makes the tackle, even though I thought he was a little late to recognize it. He continues to play well.
– Jordan Dangerfield beats the crackback block from the receiver, filling the alley and making the tackle. Receiver winds up blocking nobody.
– Steelers defense only had ten men on the field during the Bills last touchdown. Easy way to give up six. Looks like Kevin Fogg should have been out there and wasn’t.
– Doug Legursky replaced Collin Rahrig at left guard, logging a few snaps late in the game.
– Punter hangtimes.
Brad Wing: 4.33, 3.88
Jordan Berry: 4.97, 4.50, 4.28, 4.10