Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: CB James Pierre
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: In his second consecutive start in place of Joe Haden at left outside cornerback, the second-year man was repeatedly abused in the passing game and struggled in his tackling in what was one of the worst games we’ve seen out of a cornerback in years.
James Pierre was awful yesterday. Plain and simple. His play was terrible, and his execution was even worse. He was outclassed in coverage multiple times, repeatedly throughout the evening, even though the Cincinnati Bengals’ focus was on their run game.
A fan favorite out of Florida Atlantic as a college free agent last year, Pierre has been forced to meet with reality in his second season, logging plenty of snaps, including four starts, and being exposed numerous times. He’s gotten beaten deep for touchdowns a handful of times, and he added to that dubious resume once again yesterday.
Second-year Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins beat him in the end zone for a 32-yard score early in the second quarter. He insisted that there should have been an offensive pass interference penalty on the play for pushing off, but even if his case were just, he failed to even play the ball properly, and was boxed out in spite of his size.
That was only one of several receptions that he allowed on a day in which the Bengals only attempted 24 passes. But running back Joe Mixon had the opportunity to embarrass him as well within his 28-carry, 165-yard effort. Pierre’s one consistent asset pretty much all season had been his sound tackling, but he’s struggled even here in the past two games.
Frankly, he hasn’t shown much in year two that would indicate that he can be a quality starter someday. He’s had significant issues in all four of the games he’s started this year. He is capable of playing physical and making some plays against the run, but anybody counting on him replacing Haden in the starting lineup in 2022 had better start recalibrating their expectations.