Dave Bryan already stole my thunder a bit, but as you’ll see later today, I also have Jake McGee currently make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53-man roster, for reasons that I intend to illustrate in the following film study. Unlike Dave, however, his roster spot comes at Xavier Grimble’s expense, rather than in addition to the second-year tight end.
It should be noted that almost all of his work has come so far in the fourth quarter against third-string or worse competition, so hopefully he gets to see some elevated competition in the final two games. But he looks like he can handle it.
The first play I want to highlight is not a successful play for the offense. A sweep for one yards from Justin Hunter on third and 14. But McGee does his part here in getting a hat on the first defender and sticking to him. The play just didn’t develop here, but it was conservative to begin with.
The failed conversion did give him an opportunity to get another snap on special teams, however, and this time he was able to record an assisted tackle. It’s difficult to evaluate most special teams snaps during the preseason with the lack of coaches film, but making a tackle doesn’t hurt your cause.
The Falcons’ ensuing drive was a short one, with the Steelers getting the ball back after just a couple of minutes. The first play was a short pass to Sammie Coates, but you have to like McGee’s aggressiveness in coming back and throwing a block here.
It was a few plays later in the drive when his run-blocking started to take over, and frankly I had a hard time cutting down the number of plays to highlight. I opted for a 19-yarder and an 11-yarder.
We’ve seen this play plenty of times already, the counter trap pulling to the left. I like McGee’s timing and position here to seal the first defender in opening the outside of the field for James Conner to set up first and goal.
McGee helped spring Conner again for a nice gain on the same counter run that is a staple of the Steelers’ offense in recent years. This one featured a more straight-ahead and aggressive approach, jarring the first defender and winning the inside lane for the back.
He got a look at him in pass protection a couple of plays later on a deep shot to Justin Hunter. While he gave ground against the bull rush, he did a nice job of staying engaged with his upper body and positioning his feet to mirror the rusher and keep him from winning the inside.
Overall, I think it would be safe to say that I am impressed with the rookie’s body of work so far. He has been clearly better than his competition, and I think it’s time to see more from him against a higher level of opponent, and ideally as the target of a few passes as well.