Road Work: Steelers Young Receivers Still Have Long Ways To Go

The Pittsburgh Steelers backup receivers have had a pretty good start to the season. No denying that. But part of our job here is to focus on improvement for every player on the roster. So that group certainly isn’t an exception. From my review of last Thursday’s game, some of the little things these guys need to clean up.

Running The Mesh

1. Mesh concept was common under Todd Haley and it appears to be a staple of the Steelers 3rd and short (within 5 yards) offense. A rub route with two receivers or a WR and tight end running across from each other. A great man beater.

Randy Fichtner called it several times but rarely was it run the right away.

Here, there’s too much space between the two crossing receivers. This is probably on Damoun Patterson, the “Y” (player over the top, in this case Marcus Tucker) sets the mesh with the other receiver running under him. Patterson doesn’t get enough depth. Corner doesn’t get bumped off and he’s in on the tackle. Only an illegal hit moves the sticks. Look at the two by the yellow 1st down marker. Three yards between them.

Here’s how it’s supposed to look. From the end of 2016. Less than a yard of space and the corner is rubbed.

Tevin Jones seemed to have just as tough of a time. Twice, it seems like he screwed it up. This one is obvious. He’s supposed to set the mesh, Patterson running underneath, but Jones sees zone coverage and begins to settle. It’s smart to settle versus zone but he’s gotta run the concept first and then settle once he clears. He realizes that part-way through and then comes across.

This one is a little tougher to figure out. But I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be a mesh, given the WR tight splits (tight splits mean you can run the route quicker), the down/distance (3rd and 5) and the very shallow cross by James Washington. Probably on Jones to run the mesh. Shallow crosser gets bumped off his route. Josh Dobbs forced to hit his checkdown.

Hot Routes

Pointed this one out in our sack breakdown so I’ll make it short. Mason Rudolph gives Washington a hand signal to run a slant. He doesn’t read it correctly, breaking on an out route. Rudolph ends up taking a sack, nowhere to throw.

Selling The Route

Especially when it comes to double-moves. Nuance of the route for a rookie. Making a route look like something else to get the corner to bite. Two guys to focus in on. Washington and Patterson.

In this first clip, Washington runs an out. Looks fine to me. But the next rep, he runs a double-move, an out ‘n up. Problem is, he isn’t selling the out route on the double-move. Not running as hard, drifting too much on his cut (though I get that it generally won’t be as crisp of a cut on a true out) and the corner isn’t fooled at all. Dobbs wanted to go deep but it was taken away. Forced the checkdown.

Here’s the out.

And the double-move off it. For the record, I think the WR split hurt him too. Align outside the numbers and the corner probably isn’t thinking you’re running an out. Not enough room with the ball on the same hash.

Patterson same problem, though we’re focusing on one route. Wants to sell the CB to the corner and then break inside on to the skinny post. But Patterson, and Dave Bryan covered it pretty well on Friday’s podcast, is wasting too much movement. A slight shoulder fake to the outside, doesn’t even get his eyes to the corner, and his movement is too slow and deliberate. Doesn’t eat up the corner’s cushion to get him to turn so the corner is able to stay in his pedal and key the QB. Patterson breaks on the post, the corner plasters him, and nearly picks it off.

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