TE ERIC EBRON – STOCK DOWN
The Steelers would recoup almost nothing on the salary cap as a result of cutting Eric Ebron as they restructured his contract to include voidable years this past offseason. Even still, he has done nothing but hurt the team so far in 2021. He was averaging one drop per game over his last eight contests and he increased his average with a pair of drops on Sunday. They aren’t always the easiest catches to make, but when it hits you in the hands and you are being paid millions of dollars, you had better catch that ball.
Curiously, his snap count went up and was higher than Pat Freiermuth’s for the first time this season. Perhaps some of that had to do with injuries in the wide receiver group, but on three targets he caught zero passes. Once again, he was the worst graded player on the Steelers offense by Pro Football Focus with a 36.8 overall grade.
OLB DERREK TUSZKA – STOCK UP
Jamir Jones got the start at outside linebacker with Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt on the mend. By the end of the game, Derrek Tuszka had mostly replaced Jamir Jones in the lineup. This was confirmed with the recent transaction that waived Jamir Jones and signed Derrek Tuszka to the 53-man roster. Tuszka played at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State University and was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He didn’t stick to their roster for very long and was ultimately signed to the Steelers practice squad on September 1st, 2021.
He had three tackles and graded out quite well in his Pittsburgh debut from Pro Football Focus. One of his tackles was on second down, as Joe Mixon cut into the second level. If Tuszka didn’t chase the play down from behind, it was a certain first down and Mixon would have been 1-on-1 against Joe Haden at the second level. Instead, he gave the defense a chance at a third down stop. Derrek Tuszka looked like the better fourth OLB, and it appears the Steelers agree.
QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER – STOCK DOWN
Ben Roethlisberger came into this season with a new offensive coordinator, a new running back, and a mostly new offensive line. Because of this, there was a lot of question marks surrounding the offense. The hope was that Ben Roethlisberger would not add to the list of question marks, but instead be able to elevate the play of those around him. Currently through three games, he is not doing that.
He was under siege all game, and the running game was shut down which meant 58 passing attempts and 38 completions for a 65.5 completion percentage. While 10 of those incompletions were drops, its the ones that were not drops that were particularly puzzling. Two sure-thing touchdown passes that he either misread or overthrew. One to James Washington who had plenty of room down the left sideline and one to Chase Claypool as Ben threw the corner route as Chase broke wide open into the post route. The two interceptions were not pretty either. Again, just adding to the list of question marks for the offense.
OT JOE HAEG – STOCK UP
Joe Haeg came in after Chukwuma Okorafor exited the game with a concussion and immediately looked like an upgrade on the offensive line, albeit in a small sample size. He did allow a sack, but otherwise played very well in pass protection and didn’t commit a penalty. Penalties have plagued the offensive line so far this season, and Joe Haeg’s experience in the game helps in that area. Depending on how fast Chuks goes through the protocol, we may get a chance to see Haeg start which would be a valuable data point, especially with Zach Banner’s return looming.
C KENDRICK GREEN – STOCK DOWN
Kendrick Green was undoubtedly put into a difficult spot starting his career as the immediate starter on a team that must win now while he learns a new position that he barely played in college. He does have some flashes on the field that demonstrate his nasty demeanor and his high effort to always finish plays, but overall he has played very poorly through his first three starts.
Whether its an issue with his size or technique, he is getting beat far too often resulting in blown up plays or holding penalties. Alex Kozora does a great breakdown of his issues in Week 3 in this video. Much like Joe Haeg above, J.C. Hassenauer came in and immediately showed an improvement over Green.