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: DL Stephon Tuitt
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: After registering nine tackles, two sacks, and three tackles for loss, Stephon Tuitt was named the defensive player of the week for week eight in the AFC, and the tape justifies that. It was the second time in his career he has won the award.
Can a series of defenders play well individually in a game in which the unit as a whole gives up 265 rushing yards, over 450 yards in total, and 24 points? If it is, then the Steelers’ showing against the Ravens on Sunday would serve as a good example.
Stephon Tuitt in particular played very well overall, certainly one of the best games of his career, as he found himself a frequent presence in the Ravens’ backfield. That included two sacks, tied for his career-high in a single game, with five total pressures, but it also extends to the run game.
Pro Football Focus credits Tuitt with a staggering nine defensive stops for the Steelers defense in the game. Nobody else on the team had more than four, and that honor belonged to Isaiah Buggs. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, a defensive ‘stop’ is a play on which the defense prevents the offense from having a ‘successful’ play, such as gaining four yards on first down, or converting on third down.
The comical thing, of course, is the fact that PFF actually gave him a bad grade overall, and even a fairly mediocre grade in the pass rush, though what docked him most was what they regarded as two missed tackles.
Fortunately, what PFF thinks grade-wise of a player’s individual performance in an individual game really doesn’t mean anything, for, among other reasons, the simple fact that their priorities in evaluation of performance will be different than others.
As they say, the tape doesn’t lie, and Tuitt was great against the Ravens, period.