The Pittsburgh Steelers’ first game of the regular season left much to be desired, in just about every place but the win column. That’s where it matters most, but in order to increase your odds of achieving more, you’d better work on the areas in which you need to improve.
Everybody understood going in that the offense in particular would be a work in progress. It’s not surprising when you almost completely turn over the offensive line and install a new offensive system in the process while integrating rookies.
“We all knew as a team that we’re still trying to get our identity, so we knew we were gonna start off kind of slow”, rookie running back Najee Harris acknowledged after last night’s game. “It’s not what we were hoping for, but that’s just part of building. But at the same token, the Buffalo Bills are a really good team”.
Harris was one of five new ‘starters’ on offense, four of them being rookies—each of their first four draft picks. And no matter how good you might be coming out of college, you still enter the league as somebody who is growing within the game, something the new players have embraced.
“It’s a great learning experience, because there’s a lot of rookies playing”, Harris said. “Me, Pat [Freiermuth], we got Dan [Moore Jr.], KG [Kendrick Green] on the offensive side. It was a good learning experience for us to play against a really good team and finish the way we did”.
Freiermuth, the tight end, was their second-round draft pick. He was targeted just once, contributing a 24-yard open-field catch. He also had a couple of notable blocks, including a key block on a reverse run by Chase Claypool for 25 yards.
Green, the rookie center, was also a lead blocker on that run. Both he and Moore, their left tackle, and the team’s first of two fourth-round picks, had their ups and downs in their first meaningful action in the trenches, but will only grow from the experience.
“There’s a lot of stuff we’ve got to work on, me personally, speaking for myself, a lot of things to work on, but it’s always good to come out with a win”, Harris said, a claim I’m sure speaks to the feelings of all of the rookie players.
The Steelers’ other new face on offense is Trai Turner, an eight-year veteran guard, who is a five-time Pro Bowler. Personally speaking, I thought that he played well overall upon initial impressions, or at least he caught my eye positively a handful of times.
But they’re all still trying to piece themselves together as a unit, including Matt Canada as offensive coordinator and new play-caller. The only way to do that is to get stuff on tape and then learn from it. And it’s always better to learn from a win than from a loss.