If you find anything to be happy about, let me know. I’ll be searching between the coach cushions.
Antonio Brown: He didn’t have his best today but wasn’t actively harmful in the loss, something very few players can say today. He repeatedly made tough catches on a day where his teammates had trouble catching the football, finishing with 12 catches for 140 yards.
Sammie Coates: For providing a splash play, a rare moment of excitement in this mess of a game. On a day like this, a 41 yard gain is good enough to earn you a spot here.
Sean Davis: I dunno, I guess he was ok today. His tackling was much improved and he prevented a couple of good runs from being huge gashers.
Keith Butler: Hard not to start this list without a coach. I’m not going to claim the team was lazy, expected to win, and didn’t prepare – they did – it was just an abysmal gameplan. Giving up 34 points in a game is unacceptable, regardless of circumstance, to an Philadelphia Eagles team that doesn’t exactly how an immensely potent offense.
Sure, it was a tough spot to be win with poor individual execution, but there was again barely a pass rush on Carson Wentz, and Butler was unable to draw up any scheme that even seemed to both a rookie. Dick LeBeau was known as the rookie QB killer. One challenge in, Butler looks like the rookie QB whisperer.
Artie Burns: You can single out practically everyone on this defense today. I’m sure you will in the comments. But Burns was noticeably problematic early and by my count, missed two tackles in the first 20 minutes. He had the luxury of playing in dime packages when teams are trying to throw vertically prior to today. Now, he’s learned what it’s like to rally downhill and try and make a tackle. The early results have been poor.
Pass Rush: It was a collective failure, on coach and talent. James Harrison was a bright spot for a moment and one or two of Butler’s DT twists worked (including one on the Darren Sproles’ long TD). But Wentz could’ve written letters back to North Dakota with the team he had today.
It was the Steelers biggest issue bar none before the season. And as much as the Steelers tried to deny it – because they were winning – it’s going to be the biggest problem the rest of the way. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix.
Ben Roethlisberger: No one was great today but it’s days where you expect your stars to at least play big. Roethlisberger didn’t, routinely missing throw after throw, after a strong first drive that should’ve ended in a touchdown.
A miss to a how-did-he-get-so-open Jesse James jumps to my mind first. Ben finished the day with barely a 50% completion rate, 257 yards, no touchdowns, and a pick. Far from elite play.
Markus Wheaton: His return was less welcomed than the greeting Eagles’ fans surely gave Steelers’ Nation today. Wheaton was targeted five times – three drops, including letting one slip through his hands at the end of a promising first drive.
He barely saw the field and may have been held out almost altogether had it not been for Eli Rogers’ injury forcing him back into the lineup. It was a performance even Limas Sweed would cringe at and say, “There’ll be better days, man.”
Offensive Line: Can give blame across the board. Alejandro Villanueva was penalized twice, more than he was all of last year’s regular season. David DeCastro struggled, his pass protections problem continue, while Marcus Gilbert gave up a sack.
In all, Roethlisberger was sacked four times and running backs combined for just 22 yards on the ground.
Run Defense: The numbers aren’t that gaudy, the Eagles rushed for 125 yards, but they were able to reel off huge chunks on outside zone runs, something that shouldn’t happen against this athletic front seven. Philadelphia scored twice on the ground, double what Pittsburgh allowed the first pair of games.