Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: Benny Snell
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Since his strong season-opening performance against the New York Giants, in which he rushed for over 100 yards in James Conner’s absence, second-year back Benny Snell has taken a back seat, while rookie Anthony McFarland slowly becomes more ingrained into the offense.
Snell averaged nearly six yards per carry in the season opener. Since then, he has barely averaged two yards per carry, totaling 35 yards on the ground on 17 rushing attempts—with one reception for minus-four yards. He has a total of 31 yards from scrimmage on 18 touches in the past three games.
And he has played a total of 40 snaps in that span as well. That’s still more than McFarland, who has played 15 snaps in the past two weeks with 10 total touches (just three touches this past week for only six yards), but it’s clear that the rookie’s arrow is very much pointed up, while Snell seems to be becoming stagnant.
We harp on yards per carry being flawed, so let’s take a look at his runs since week one. He had three carries against the Broncos, all on first and 10. His longest gain was three yards, totaling five yards, and he lost a fumble to boot.
He got seven carries against the Texans. His longest gain, again, was four yards, and he had one rush for negative yardage. However, he did convert twice on third and one, gained four yards on second and six, and…was stuffed on first and goal from the one. So that’s three positive plays out of seven.
Now, on Sunday, against the Eagles, he rushed seven times again. His longest gain was eight yards, but that was on first and 20 following a penalty for one. He also had an eight-yard run on second and nine. None of his other runs gained more than two yards, but he did convert another third and one.
So he has three third-and-one conversions over the past two games, totaling five yards on those three plays, which drags his average down. He’s also been stuffed at the goal line, lost yardage twice, and has only gained more than four yards once over his past 17 carries in a situation that didn’t involve a first-and-10 penalty creating a draw play.