Tom’s Ten Takes: Steelers vs Browns

Following each game in the 2022 Steelers season I will be giving you my ten 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.

Game 3 – Cleveland Browns

1. Power and Energy – Energy is the ability to cause change; power is the rate energy is moved and the unit of power is the watt. The combination of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren looked like a strong pair in this game. Harris is the power looking to run through you or put stiff arm in your face. Warren is the energy with his decisiveness choosing gaps and the burst downfield. The offensive line looked better and may be starting to gel. This could be the beginning of a much improved run game. Derek Watt hasn’t been utilized much but I had to mention him since his name fits in this take.

2. Finding the Weak Spot – It was not a good night for Terrell Edmunds. Giving up two touchdowns in the red zone rather easily. Coverage is not his strong suit that is something we knew. Cleveland did a nice job of scheming to put him in Man coverage situations and took advantage of it. I don’t think the Steelers offense does that nearly enough. Identifying something they can take advantage of on a weekly basis.

3. Where Are You Going? – I want to give Chase Claypool some credit. He seems to have matured this year and is not playing with the “me” mentality he has shown in the past. He also has been able to stay under control and on his feet to make receptions. However, twice in this game after making a play (I think one was the end around, the other a reception) he tried to come out of the game. This is something he has done in the past as well. The latter was the third play of the third quarter. You can’t be tired. Why are you taking yourself out after you make a play? You just made a play, don’t you want to make more?

4. Zone and Groan – Evidently Teryl Austin is a Zone coverage guy. Through three games we have seen the defense play it quite a bit. It is excruciating to watch average offenses pick apart the defense especially in the middle of the field. Couple that with the poor tackling and linebackers tackling too high and getting dragged for four yards after contact has me sighing audibly on repeat. Maybe it’s the lesser of two evils and they feel the corners aren’t built for Man coverage.

5. I Like Them But… – I am a fan of Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry but man would I love to have a legit blocking tight end. It would help the running game so much and open up those cut back lanes like Cleveland was using. Other than Alex Highsmith, none of the Steelers edge players can get off a block. Opposing teams don’t have the same problem. They want Freiermuth to be the do-it-all tight end but he is not a great blocker. Gentry is a better blocker but they don’t use him in the pass game. Connor Heyward is only being used in 13 personnel. Teams around the league have a position group with more defined roles (blocking TE, move TE).

6. Must Adjust – The plan was to help out Dan Moore with handling Myles Garrett and they did a nice job. They used tight ends and running backs to assist on passing downs. Over the course of the game, the Browns lost two starting linebackers and through three quarters there were ZERO passes to tight ends. Zero! I honestly wonder if Matt Canada even knew. Why is there no adjustment to get tight ends or running backs on those backups?

7. Nose Job – I had a thought in the fourth quarter. Would it be beneficial to give someone else more snaps at the nose tackle over Tyson Alualu? He wasn’t getting a lot of push or getting off tackles as Cleveland ran the ball convincingly late in the game. On one drive the Browns ran the ball on 10 of 11 plays. Coming in to the game, Alualu had played 65 snaps and Montravius Adams had played just 16. As many plays as this defense has had to endure the first three games it would benefit to keep the players fresher by spreading around the playing time.

8. The Burning Bush – He’s better. Probably somewhere between the level of play from last season and his rookie season. Devin Bush was a big question coming into the season and at this point the arrow seems to be point up. The physicality, especially in the fourth quarter, was much better. He seems to have trust in his body again and that will let him just react and play more urgently. He had his first double digit tackle game since wee one of last season. It’s good to see because the team needs him to be equal to or better than his rookie year.

9. By George, I think He’s Got It – It was a ridiculous catch by George Pickens. To have that much body control combined with the hand/eye coordination to put his hand in the perfect spot to catch the point of the ball was remarkable. He looked like he was back flipping into a pool. It was great but again, just three receptions although he had more targets in this game than he had in the first two weeks. Adjust his route tree to include more slants, crossers and those out routes like they keep throwing to Claypool.

10. It’s Getting Late Early – It may be a little early to look at the upcoming schedule and if you have not, don’t. Next week is a must win against the Jets. After that they are at Buffalo, home for Tampa Bay, at Miami and at Philadelphia. That is followed by the bye week. The way things look right now; there aren’t a lot of wins there. Of course a lot can and will change over the course of those five weeks but yikes. The offense isn’t generating enough and the defense is going to be running on fumes being on the field so much. A 2-6 record is not out of the question.

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