Every week is going to be a big one for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. They’re under the microscope as the outside world tries to determine whether or not they made the right football decision by trading Antonio Brown, even though the wide receiver essentially gave them little choice—as evidenced by the fact that he is on his third team since March.
And the scope will be in even tighter this week after they were blown out by the New England Patriots. An offensive unit with six current or former Pro Bowlers only mustered up a total of three points on the night, that coming after their first drive of the second half stalled at the one-yard line.
While Ben Roethlisberger was not as sharp as he needed to be, nobody had a worse game than sixth-year wide receiver Donte Moncrief, who was signed to a two-year contract back in March to start. In the opener, he caught only three of 10 targets, mustering up a blistering seven yards in total.
I sorted through all of his targets, and I credited him with three drops on his seven incomplete targets, with an additional target that he could have caught. Five of the seven incompletions were on-target, but all were contested to some degree or another, and even still, the majority of them should have been caught.
Given that he targeted Moncrief more than any other Steelers receiver on Sunday, Roethlisberger was asked earlier this week if he has confidence in the wide receiver the way he did in the offseason. “Still do. Nothing’s changed in that”, he told reporters via a video provided by the team’s website.
“I think he’s a smart receiver. He’s a guy that’s gonna give you everything he’s got”, the quarterback said when asked was gives him that confidence in the 26-year-old. “He’s a veteran guy, he’s been around. He can run, he can run different routes, not just kind of a deep ball guy. I really just like the personality that he has. He’s a guy that is easy to talk to and will communicate back with you. I’m excited for him this week. I think we’ll see some big things”.
A former third-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts, he spent last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars after signing a one-year deal with them in free agency, but he has never lived up to the potential that he had coming into the NFL.
“I’m not discouraged at all”, Roethlisberger said. The quarterback explained that he approaches every game as though everybody has a clean slate, that nothing that happened in the previous game matters, and that he’s not going to shy away from a guy who made a mistake the week before.
The home opener for Moncrief will, he hopes, be Redemption Sunday for him against the Seattle Seahawks. He knows everything that’s been said of him up to this point in his career, and he knows what the Patriots loss does to his story as well. It’s time to shut out the noise and get to work.