2018 South Side Questions: More Encouraged By Offense Or Defense?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Were you more encouraged by the offense or defense in yesterday’s win over the Cleveland Browns?

While neither side of the football got off to a particularly good start, with the offense going three and out on their first three possessions—excepting that one ‘out’ was an interception on third down—and the defense allowed the Browns to march down the field for three field goal attempts in four drives, the team as a whole ultimately buckled down and turned in what I would say is their third ‘complete’ game in a row.

The offense ultimately awoke from slumber and from the second quarter on scored 31 points (the defense adding two), while the flip side held the Browns to just seven points in meaningful competition after the first quarter.

Nick Chubb started the game running well but was slowed by the end, finishing with 65 yards on 18 carries. Baker Mayfield threw one meaningful touchdown pass, gaining 180 yards on 36 pass attempts while being sacked twice and throwing an interception.

Meanwhile, James Conner ran exceptionally well, even if he did fumble. Jarvis Landry was held to just 38 yards on eight catches, the bulk of which came on one busted play in which Mayfield was able to scramble away from pressure from two defenders.

The defense registered five tackles for loss in addition to two sacks and got their hands on four passes, including the Haden interception. While Mayfield’s mobility was an issue, pressure was pretty consistent, and would have been even more effective with better pocket containment.

The special teams produced a punt that yielded a safety two plays later, but also muffed the ensuing free kick, but Jordan Berry and Chris Boswell both did their jobs, and Ryan Switzer also had a good game as a punt returner.

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