The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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: Should the Steelers bench or demote their skill position players who are dealing with dropped passes?
After two consecutive games in which the Steelers have dropped half a dozen passes are more, it is now becoming a pattern rather than an aberration that there is a problem. Head coach Mike Tomlin said that for players whose job it is to catch the ball at this level, catching the ball has to be a non-discussion. But we’re discussing it for the second week in a row now.
The two biggest culprits have been second-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson and tight end Eric Ebron, both of whom have also made some critical big plays during the same stretch of time. The reality is that they are both two of their most important playmakers, but also two of their most inconsistent.
So what do you do? Do you try to let them work through their drops? Or do you give other players more playing time and see how those guys respond, hoping that the reduced role does something to fire them up and improve?
For Johnson, you could give James Washington more playing time, and it wouldn’t be unwarranted, because he has been making plays, including a couple yesterday. At tight end, you would have to rely on Vance McDonald, who has been almost exclusively a blocking tight end this year, but has shown capable of catching the ball in the past.