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Tom’s Ten Takes – Steelers vs Panthers

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 15 – Carolina Panthers

1. The Quick and The Dull – You’ve heard of winning ugly. How about winning boring? Ball control offense is the name of the game and they are executing it fairly well. They’ve won three out of four with all of them played in less than three hours. Lots of runs, lots of short passes and really not a lot of excitement. We got one deep throw to George Pickens and that’s about it. It’s more like 1982 football than 2022 football. A dull win is better than an exciting loss I guess.2.

2. Irrelevant – The final pick in the draft is given this moniker. This year it was Brock Purdy and he has been playing some exciting ball for the San Francisco 49ers. For this Steelers team it’s whoever is playing quarterback. Statistically neither Mitchell Trubisky nor Kenny Pickett has been that impressive. They have combined for eight passing touchdowns in fourteen games. Eight! Purdy has six TD’s in three games. Do you believe either is the answer to the question, “Who is the quarterback of the future in Pittsburgh?” Or is it irrelevant in this offense? I wouldn’t be surprised to see them look closely at the QB’s in this year’s draft.

3. Attack the Back – After giving up 110, 146 and 215 on the ground over the last three games the defense had to step it up. From the very beginning you could see they were going to go on the attack. T.J. Watt shifting to the inside and filling a gap started it off. They sent Devin Bush to attack. They sent Terrell Edmunds to attack. Larry Ogunjobi was a fixture in the backfield. Prior to today the Panthers low for rushing yards this season was 46. Holding them to 21 was a tone setter for the defense.

4. New Rule – Diontae Johnson is a polarizing player. He is fantastic at creating space and getting open. His issues with the drops have subsided. Whether you like him or not he is the number one receiver on this team. I’ve addressed his tendency to run backwards after the catch. He caught a ball and ran back four yards just to turn and get back to the spot where he caught it. In the third quarter, he caught and out breaking pass and ran out of bounds. I cheered! No yardage lost. New rule for DJ. He can only make a change of direction cut after the catch when he is at least ten yards downfield. Those cuts are good and produce yardage. The short ones negate yardage. And for what it’s worth the taunting penalty was just dumb.

5. Speaking of Dumb – Marcus Allen. You Sir got called for maybe the dumbest penalty of the season. What are you thinking walking into another teams huddle during a time out? You cost the team an offensive possession. That led to the defense, which had made the stop, to have to come back on the field. That led to points being allowed. Completely unacceptable. I’m not one for overreactions normally but this time I am. He needs to be made an example of for the rest of team. That you’re not going to tolerate selfish actions. Suspend him for a game. Cut him and his ten tackles. Something should be done.

6. Who Were They Watching? – I understand the job of the television announcers can be complex. They have a lot going on, need to see everything and talk about it for three hours. You’ll hear someone say the wrong name occasionally and they’ll usually correct themselves. Not today. During the course of this game I heard the following. Steven Sams, Chuba Howard, Jeremy Quinn and Terrance Marshall. Those are close but all wrong. Greg Gumbel and Adam Archuleta had some struggles today.

7. Boykin Package – Prior to the bye week Miles Boykin had played 37 offensive snaps in eight weeks. Coming into this game since the bye he has played 35 snaps over those four weeks. They have an offensive package that includes him along with multiple tight ends. It seems he is the most willing blocker of the WR room. Prior to this game 70% of time when he was in the game, they ran the ball. They’ve also completed 5 of 6 passes in this package. He was out there quite a bit, mostly runs. Some get angry when Johnson and Pickens aren’t on the field. They do need a break now and then. With the improvement in the run game we are sure to continue to see him.

8. Outburst of Energy – Other than the occasional smile through the facemask now and again we haven’t seen much emotion from Jaylen Warren. I guess he was holding it all in for his first touchdown. Congrats to him and his victory dance. The team has shown a tremendous amount of trust in the rookie. They gave him multiple carries in the four minute offense. He has done all that has been asked and was rewarded with the touchdown carry. He’s proven to be a nice compliment to Najee Harris’ bruising style.

9. Trio Needs Help – It took a while but it was nice to see the pass rush effective again. There were several plays early where they got close but couldn’t finish. The big three of Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith combined for four sacks. The troubling issue is the lack of production from other players. Edmunds got in there twice but couldn’t finish. Ogunjobi had one quarterback hit. After the big three the player with the most sacks on the team is…Arthur Maulet with two. Pass rush depth will be very high on the off season list.

10. Why So Chippy? – Why didn’t you tell me the Steelers and Panthers had such a tumultuous rivalry? What was going on out there today? It didn’t seem like there was some event that led to it. All game both sides were getting in the face of each other. Pushing, shoving, chirping, taunting were all seen. Were they both mad at being 5-8 this year? Was Carolina perturbed that the whole lower bowl of the stadium was filled with the Steeler faithful? I would have expected it more last week versus Baltimore.

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