7 gut reactions from the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
1 – If the season ended today, the Steelers team MVP would most likely be running back DeAngelo Williams. One could make the case that after two weeks, he would be in the conversation for league MVP. 58 carries for 237 yards rushing along with 10 receptions for an additional 64 yards makes for a very impressive two-game stat line. Add on 3 overall touchdowns and his stats only become that much more impressive. Oh yeah, and this production is coming at the ripe age of 33. The Steelers are generally quiet when it comes to signing free-agents from other teams, but they hit the jackpot when they went off the reservation and signed Williams.
2 – The Steelers defense was relatively conservative when it came to blitzing their opponent for the second week in a row. While it’s a far cry of the “blitzburgh” defenses of the 90’s, it’s hard to argue with results. The defense held last year’s AFC North champions to 16 points and on a short week at that.
3 – Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed passes to nine different targets against the Bengals. Three of those nine receivers were Steelers tight ends. Two of those tight ends scored touchdowns. From what I saw, offensive coordinator Todd Haley was attempting to pass out of 12 and 13 personnel to force Cincinnati to bring a safety into the box, and it was effective in manufacturing drives when the offense was not clicking.
4 – Missed tackles continue to haunt the Steelers defense. They held the Bengals to 16 points but let’s not be fooled, 8 drops by Bengals receivers and the lack of a consistent power run game had a lot to do with that. But let’s take a positive spin, there’s room to grow, you don’t want your team to peak in Week 2.
5 – Week 2 against the Bengals showed the clear difference between the Bengals offense and the Steelers offense. The Bengals became one dimensional, trying to take advantage of a young Steelers secondary. It looks good statistically, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 366 yards and a touchdown. But they only had 46 yards rushing as a team with a long of 10. Conversely, the Steelers had a balanced attack. 259 yards through the air from Roethlisberger and 124 on the ground. Given their opponent and the weather, this balanced attack was the key to victory.
6 – The defense was not ALL bad. Keith Butler’s squad has managed to surrender only 32 combined points to two very different offenses that were both playoff caliber last season. Not to mention linebacker Ryan Shazier is developing into a star. His blazing speed and ability to make plays in all facets of the game from his weak inside linebacker position are changing the complexion of this defense. Dare I say his timely play-making ability reminds me of a young Troy Polamalu? If he can stay healthy that is.
7 – Kicker Chris Boswell and punter Jordan Berry have been great so far through two games. Linebacker Vince Williams seems to be in or around every special-teams tackle. But who else is going to step up? Rookie linebacker Tyler Matakevich made a tackle. It’s surprising fellow linebacker L.J. Fort doesn’t make a bigger contribution because he seems to have the skill set of a solid special-teamer. But the real worry lies with the ineffectiveness of the Steelers’ jammers. Bengals gunner Josh Shaw routinely beat double teams and got down field to make plays or deny the returner the sideline. Special teams blocking will need to improve as the season goes on.