Tom’s Ten Takes: Steelers Vs Eagles

Following each game in the 2021 Steelers season I will be giving you my 10 takes.  These aren’t going to be hot takes and meant to shock the world. This will be instant reactions to the game written while still in that period just following the game when the emotions are high and the ideas are fresh. Included will be thoughts, observations, queries and reasons that caused me to yell at the television.

Week 2 Preseason

Opponent – Philadelphia Eagles

1. Protection Needed – Oh boy, the offensive line did not look good in pass protection. The Eagles defensive line was able to collapse the pocket virtually at will. Chukwuma Okorafor struggled pretty much his entire time in the game.  Kendrick Green was driven back to the QB. The Eagles were only able to get one sack so give credit to the QB’s for getting the ball out quickly.

2. Moore Exposure –One player who did look pretty good was Dan Moore. He looked very comfortable in pass protection and showed his mobility for the second consecutive week. On consecutive plays he was out in front of screen to his left and then blocking ten yards downfield on a Jaylen Samuels run. Would love to see him get more exposure verses defensive starters moving forward.

3. 33 Showing What 44 Will Do – You may not get a lot of people talking about Trey Edmunds on offense but through two games he has 3 receptions for 33 yards. I’m pretty sure those catches have come with him aligned on the wing outside the tackle/tight end with him sneaking into the flat behind the offensive line.  I would expect when the season comes those will be passes to Derek Watt who had 12 receptions for 150 yards as a freshman at Wisconsin. His offensive coordinator at Wisconsin was Matt Canada.

4. Jonesing to Show What He Can Do – I’m going to bring Jamir Jones up for the second consecutive week. He leads the team with 5 QB hits in two games. I believe the next closest is Alex Highsmith and Quincy Roche with 2. He had two special team tackles this week and has 5 total tackles and a sack. The sack wasn’t the prettiest execution running into the defensive tackle on the loop but he got it.  Cassius Marsh had better take notice.

5. McFarland Making Moves – He missed out on a true training camp and preseason last year and in the Rookie Report I repeated many times that he needs improved patience and pace behind the line of scrimmage. My first note on him for this game was the same but the more carries he received the better he looked. His burst and speed or top notch. If he can keep it throttled down until he makes the correct gap choice he has a chance to be a true weapon. Give him more carries so he can get his timing down.

6. Life from Layne – There hasn’t been a lot of positivity in regards to Justin Layne but there was some life from him in Philadelphia. In the first half he was playing the receiver instead of the ball and should have been called for penalty. I feel like he got a talking to at halftime because he came out early with a tackle on a running play before making the interception.  We would like to see more of that going forward.

7. Targeting the Tight Ends – This is something we have seen in the past. Other teams targeting their tight ends against the Steelers defense. It was early and it was often. Overall, the Eagles tight ends had 10 targets, completing 7 for 104 yards.  That’s almost 15 yards per reception and over ten yards per target.  Completely unacceptable and it’s not just the linebackers. We’ll see if the new addition can help but there is a lot of work to be done.

8. Confidence in Killebrew – The signing of Miles Killebrew was seen as more of an addition to the special team units but from what I have seen I like what he has shown on defense as well. He’s a veteran who can back up Terrell Edmunds, he has been communication with the young DB’s, and he’s a good tackler and can bring some pop when tackling. It was a quiet signing but I feel he’ll be a valuable piece on this team.

9. Rookies Gonna Rookie – Najee Harris probably bounced off of more people than yards he gained but trying to hurdle…in the preseason…twice!! C’mon man, don’t make us panic like that. Isaiah McKoy got a chance to return punts. Made a good decision to let one go over his head in to the end zone. He turned his one return into a seven yard loss.  Good to see Pat Freiermuth get some action this week but was called for a hold early in the game. On the positive side, Roche and Isaiah Loudermilk combined for a sack and Rico Bussey caught all four targets for 45 yards.

10. QB Conundrum – The battle for the backup continues and both players had their moments. Mason Rudolph had only one incompletion on a late check down but his deep ball to Diontae Johnson was a thing of beauty putting it perfectly on the outside shoulder.  Dwayne Haskins was improved this week but was inconsistent.  He started with a check down an errant throw on the sideline. From there he showed off his arm strength hitting receivers on the sideline and up the seam. He got a little inconsistent again late in the third turning the wrong way on run, made a good decision on the free play but then threw it behind Zach Gentry and too high for Tony Brooks-James.  He may have closed the gap this week but Rudolph still has the edge.

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