Tom’s Ten Takes: Steelers vs Jaguars

Following each game in the 2022 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.

Preseason Game 2 – Jacksonville Jaguars

1. Gunner, Oh! – Yes, he was an All-Pro in 2020 but in 2021 he fumbled three times and has five for his three year career. That probably has a lot to do with why he isn’t in New England anymore. He has performed well so far in camp and was actually looking like a viable option at the slot. Seeing him put the ball on the ground albeit on a dumb play call was disappointing. It got me thinking whether I want him on returns or Anthony McFarland (kickoffs) and Steven Sims (punts).

2. No Guards on Duty – I am officially worried about the offensive guard position. Whomever they had in there gave up either ground in the run game, gave up pressures or got the quarterback hit on a regular basis. My hope was that Kevin Dotson and James Daniels would be a strong duo for the next few years. The coaching staff should declare and open competition for anyone interested in taking the position.

3. Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson – I will admit that I thought the selection of Mark Robinson was a wasted pick. I felt at the time that he wouldn’t be able to contribute anything to the team this year. Move over and save me a seat because I am jumping on his hype train. This dude is fun to watch and I love how he attacks the run. He is raw but the potential I definitely there. He could be a strong special teamer initially while sharpening his skills defensively.  If I am any linebacker not named Myles Jack, I am looking over my shoulder.

4. I’m Old Enough to Remember – Let’s travel way back in time to last week. Remember when the team ran for 185 yards and over five yards a carry? Man, those were the days. Piggybacking on point number two above, the run blocking was terrible. I counted at least six plays were the running back was hit in the backfield. You can’t expect the backs to have to deal with that again this year. The RB’s combined for 10 carries for 10 yards. Woof!

5. Successful Little Wrinkle – On the two minute drive expertly executed by Kenny Pickett one play stood out to me. The third play had a bunch formation to the left that had a late release by Pat Freiermuth. Last season when they ran this formation Freiermuth would often run a hitch or curl and might gain five if the ball was thrown his way. On this play he slowed like he would hitch and then angled behind the linebackers. It was a nice little change that proved effective.

6. Speaking of that Drive – On the next play, Pickett threw a touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson that was nullified by offsetting penalties. Josh Allen was offside and Dan Moore held him. Wait, what? If the defender being offside was the reason that caused the holding shouldn’t the play be stopped and it only be an offside penalty? Maybe I don’t understand the rule correctly but that seemed strange to me.

7. Two Be Mobile Or Not To Be – It was another impressive performance by the quarterback group overall. Mitch Trubisky showed his mobility making a couple nice plays to escape sacks. Pickett looked very prepared, knew where to go with the ball and would subtly retreat showing his pocket mobility to give the receiver more time to get open. Mason Rudolph takes the snap and he will bounce, bounce and then completely stops his feet. I am amazed that his still does this and I can’t think of any quarterback in the league that consistently stops his feet.

8. Young and Safe – The play of the young safeties was encouraging and for two completely different reasons. I like to watch Tre Norward in the pre snap process. He is constantly communicating with the second and third level defenders to get them on the same page. Donovan Stiner finished the game with six tackles and I liked his ability to get downhill aggressively to the ball. He took a couple marginal angles that cost him tackles but that can hopefully be fixed. The energy and want-to as a tackler I liked.

9. Three Time Defender – The work Terrell Edmunds was doing near the line of scrimmage was good to see. He seems really comfortable close to the line of scrimmage he made two hits behind the offensive line that resulted in no gain. There was another play where he made a hit behind the line and the runner stumbled forward for three. If Devin Bush isn’t going to attack the gaps it’s good to know Edmunds will get back there.

10. 6 for 88, 1 TD – That is the stat line for wide receiver Tyler Vaughns through the first two games. He has two receptions of at least 24 yards. His route tree seems to be limited at this point but he has made the most of his 8 targets. You have to like the yards after the catch he has been able to create as well. His path to the 53 looks like an uphill climb. I can see another team grabbing him quickly before Pittsburgh can put him back on their practice squad after the final cuts.

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