Steelers With The Necessary Checks

Dale Lolley checks what the Steelers did against list of what he wanted to see and considers night to be a success.

I wasn't at the game in Jacksonville. It will be the only game I miss this season. But that doesn't mean I didn't have some thoughts about this 23-21 loss and how the Pittsburgh Steelers played.

I made some notes about what I wanted to see in this game. First was the first-string offense - something we haven't seen much of at Saint Vincent College - walk right down the field and score on the opening drive.

Check that one off.

The Steelers made that one look easy and every one of the weapons touched the ball with the exception of tight end Heath Miller. Antonio Brown catch? Check. Le'Veon Bell catch? Check. Le'Veon Bell run? Check. DeAngelo Williams run? Check. Martavis Bryant on a bomb for a TD? Check. Markus Wheaton for a two-point conversion? Check.

The ball never hit the ground. That's what we thought this offense could be. That's exactly what it was.

I don't know how, if you're an opposing defensive coordinator, you try to stop this group.

Then it was the defense's turn.

Run stop by Ryan Shazier? Check. Diving stuff by William Gay to stop a play short of the sticks? Check. Bad pass forced by nose tackle Steve McLendon dropping into a passing lane? Check. And the defense got a three-and-out.

And that was pretty much it.

The offensive stars departed after that, but the defense stayed out for another drive, albeit with James Harrison in at right outside linebacker for Jarvis Jones. Sack strip by Harrison? Check.

The defense was fortunate the Jaguars had some drops, but it doesn't have to be a shutdown defense. After all, Landry Jones isn't going to be throwing to Shakim Phillips once the regular season starts.

* Shazier played into the second half and I don't have a problem with that. He didn't get the snaps he was supposed to as a rookie because of injuries and needs as many snaps as possible if he's going to turn into the star the Steelers hope he will.

Plus, the team has more depth at inside linebacker than any other position. If it makes Shazier - who was all over the field in Jacksonville - a better player, great. If he would happen to get hurt while they're trying to get him that experience, Vince Williams and Sean Spence are waiting in the wings. And that's not bad.

* We saw some of the issues with playing too much Cover-2, as the Jaguars missed an open tight end and also victimized the Steelers down the sideline a couple of times.

The fact that Mike Mitchell still isn't out there getting playing time with Shamarko Thomas is troubling to me. There's a lot of trust and timing that goes into playing a deep zone like that. Communication also is a factor.

And the Steelers' starting safeties haven't been on the field together enough to develop that.

* Alejandro Villanueva wasn't as good this week as he was last and that will happen with a young player. But he's already shown enough that there's no way the Steelers can afford trying to sneak him onto the practice squad.

* We saw more of the same from Landry Jones again in this one. Some good throws. Some bad throws. And some throws that looked bad thanks to being out there with a young receiver group.

Like it or not, the Steelers are likely going to go with three quarterbacks to open the season. It's just what they like to do.

* Jason Gildon had 77 sacks in a Steelers uniform. James Harrison has 69 1/2. Gotta think the new (old) No. 92 pushes the old No. 92 out of that spot if he can stay healthy. He's only going to play 20 to 25 snaps per game - that's still the plan - but there's no doubt Harrison can still beat guys around the edge.


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