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.
Game 2 – New England Patriots
1. Wait Your Turn – I assume that is the philosophy of Matt Canada when it comes to rookie pass catchers. Last year in the first five games Pat Freiermuth had only 13 targets (2.6 per game). The final eleven games he averaged six per game. Why else would you draft George Pickens in the second round, watch him have a very good preseason and then not get him the ball? His first catch came with seventeen seconds left in the first half. Don’t leave the Ferrari in the garage. Take it out and see what it can do.
2. Hole Zone Layer – For the life of me, I don’t understand why they play so much Zone coverage against the Patriots. When Tom Brady was there he would salivate at the opportunity and pick them apart. Now with a young QB, don’t you want to make him throw into tight coverage? Add in the fact that the Patriot have less the dynamic receivers, I just don’t get it. Against the Bengals and their receivers, I understand. Not in this game.
3. Strategy or Energy – Early in the game I noticed that the Patriot defenders were, let’s say, taking their time getting off the Steelers players after making a tackle. It was a warm day and if this were happening late in the game it would be understandable. I wouldn’t put it past Bill Belichick to use this as a strategy to slow play the annoyance to get into the heads of the players. It could lead to one play where someone has had enough of it and commits a dumb penalty.
4. Double Muff – Gunner Olszewski tried to catch the ball with his facemask and learned that is very difficult. But that may have been the second error on the play. The player that recovered the fumble Brendan Schooler was unblocked as the gunner. The Steelers had no one on him and two players on the near side gunner. I’m curious to know if that was a mistake and if so, on whom? Gunner O still needs to make the catch. Can’t have specials turning the ball over.
5. Same Stuff, Different Game – It has been 84 years…check that. It just feels like that. It actually has been four years since the Steelers offense ranked higher than 12th in points and better than 23rd in yards. This offense is the same boring, predictable, ineffective, short of the chains garbage we’ve seen all too often. I have given Canada the benefit of the doubt to this point but major changes need to be made. You can’t win consistently with what they are doing.
6. Backed to Cliff, They Fell – The last drive the Patriots were content to run the ball and dare the Steelers to stop them and they couldn’t do it. And it was done with relative ease. Left side or right side it didn’t matter. They ran power football and were able keep the chains moving. Quite frankly the Patriots did what the Steelers want to be able to do. They are a long way from that. Yes Watt would have helped but others need to step up.
7. Look At All the Shiny Toys – The past two seasons they have drafted a running back, tight end, quarterback and wide receiver in the first two rounds. Without a capable offensive line, none of it matters. It seems like everyone but the front office understood the need for help up front. They tried to make up for it through free agency but through too games it doesn’t seem to be enough. They could continue to gel and improve but will it be too little too late.
8. Boykin He Play – In the early going Miles Boykin has been a bright spot on special teams. He was brought in to be a gunner on punt coverage and he consistently wins his reps to get down field quickly. There was one punt I would have liked to see him break down a little sooner but through two games he already has four tackles and has forced fair catches on others. A very good signing to this point.
9. 205 Yards – As I mentioned earlier, the Patriots do not have dynamic receivers. Yet they allowed Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Myers to gather 15 receptions on 19 targets for 205 yards. That is unacceptable. Give Agholor some credit making a great catch for the touchdown. And it’s not just on the corners. In my opinion, Robert Spillane is getting to much depth in dime coverage and giving up easy crossing routes in front of him. This team has a lot of holes.
10. Can He! Can He? – The chants were loud. The chants were obvious. As were the sound of boo’s cascading from the Acrisure faithful (sounds weird, right?). Many were calling for Kenny Pickett after multiple passes on third down that were well short of the line to gain. I’d be lying if I said I’m not curious to see what Pickett can do with the offense. Mitch Trubisky is continually throwing off his back foot. He was getting happy feet looking to escape clean pockets. And maybe we now know why he throws so much outside the numbers with an interception and two other pass deflections were inside the numbers. The change won’t likely come on a short week for a road game but I could see it in week four against the New York Jets.