By Alex Kozora
A full game breakdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday night.
- Steelers on opening kickoff coverage. L1 Cortez Allen, L2 Robert Golden, L3 Shamarko Thomas, L4 Will Johnson, L5 Jarvis Jones. R1 Chris Carter (I consider the player to the immediate right of Suisham to be 1 but maybe he’s R5, I’ve never been sure) R2 Kion Wilson, R3 Curtis Brown, Da’mon Cromartie-Smith R4, Markus Wheaton R5.
- Pretty much known but just for note keeping purposes, Jason Worilds started the game at ROLB. Jarvis Jones replaced Worilds on the second series. Worilds reclaimed that spot on the 3rd series. Round and round we go, Jarvis later replaced him. Worilds began the second half.
- Jamaal Charles biggest run early in the game. Zone blocking scheme. Lawrence Timmons filling the playside “B” gap following the flow of the lead blocking FB, and Larry Foote filling the backside “C” gap. Problem is that no one has backside “A” gap. LaMarr Woodley has backside contain so I don’t think it was needed for Foote to have the “C” gap and it creates an easy cutback for Charles.
- William Gay in there on first team nickel packages. No surprise there.
- Looked like an amoeba defense (one down lineman) on 3rd and 7 of the Chiefs’ first possession.
- Starting jammers were Ike Taylor and William Gay.
- A brief recap of all the snaps Kelvin Beachum played in as the eligible TE. Nothing too in depth, just an overview of his assignment.
1. Sole tight end of team’s first offensive snap. Steelers in 11 personnel. Base blocks OLB.
2. Part of Trips Bunch look like David Paulson would be aligned. Pass protect.
3. Base block OLB.
4. Base block OLB.
5. Left side of the line for the first time, end around to Emmanuel Sanders. Base blocks OLB Tamba Hali.
6. Pass protect against OLB.
7. Playaction, pass protect vs the OLB.
8. RT, base block OLB.
9. PA, pass protect.
10. Two TE set with Paulson to his outside. Paulson releases, Beachum pass protects vs Hali.
11. Trips bunch look with Paulson and Wheaton. Pass protects vs Hali.
So a total of 11 plays in the first half alone as the eligible TE. Beachum said early in camp that he was getting work at TE but in short yardage situations. Obviously, it has gone far beyond that. To do so in the third, the most important, preseason game makes it seem like the team is serious about giving this a shot. Maybe not 11 times in every game but sprinkled in. The obvious benefit is being able base block much more effectively than David Paulson, who works best when working on an angle
- First “true” TE in the game was David Johnson.
- Another situation where it probably would have been better served for Jonathan Dwyer to stay downhill than trying to cut. Less egregious than the prior ones we’ve noted the last two weeks but still an incorrect decision.
- Paulson got the next rep at TE after Johnson.
- FG unit in no particular order. David DeCastro, Kelvin Beachum, David Paulson, Ramon Foster, Greg Warren, Mike Adams, Jarvis Jones, Brian Moorman (holder), Marcus Gilbert.
- Steve McClendon really held up well at the POA on the 3rd and 1 before KC’s 4th an inches failed conversion. Took on a double team from the C/LG and held up. Technique to avoid getting washed? Turn your shoulders and collapse. Doesn’t let the lineman push you upfield and you can clog the running lanes by collapsing. Usually not advised and definitely not pretty but in this situation, it’s an effective tool for a nose tackle.
- 4th and inches failed conversion. Two keys to the play. Troy Polamalu coming in free and getting penetration. Jones getting under Anthony Fasano and helping on the tackle.
- 3rd and 5, 5:03 1st. Completion to Jericho Cotchery to move the sticks. Cotch lined up in the backfield with Dwyer on an angle route. Came out of the backfield once vs Washington too (Kerrigan INT).
- And on that same play, some really savvy route running from Cotchey. Looking back and forth between Ben and the defense. Splits the linebackers and then makes the catch.
- Ben Roethlisberger’s sack, 2nd and goal with 3:36 left in the first. Supposed to be a quick hitter, slant/flat between Antonio Brown and Paulson. Looks like Ben wanted Paulson in the flat. But Derrick Johnson comes in on a late blitz and there’s really no way for Dwyer to pick it up in time. However, knowing the ball should come out so quick, Ramon Foster should pick him up and clog the “A” gap. Work inside out in that situation. He doesn’t.
- Dave Bryan (had it first on Twitter, Rick Reilly) was right about Mike Adams opening up the gate on Ben’s TD to Dwyer. Hali has no trouble stepping to the inside and blowing past.
- Double vice on the second punt with Gay, Taylor, Golden, and Thomas acting as the jammers. Others out there: Baron Batch, Justin Brown, Kion Wilson, Jarvis Jones, Will Johnson, and Jamie McCoy.
- Wheaton in the slot the play after Dwyer’s “chop block”. Antonio Brown off the field, Cotchery the “X”.
- Curtis Brown and Thomas the first team gunners. Others on punt coverage: Golden (upback, second time in three weeks he’s started there), Will Johnson, Wilson, Paulson, Brian Rolle, Chris Carter. Possibly Dwyer but I couldn’t really tell.
- Great hustle from Ziggy Hood to tackle Dwayne Bowe on his 30 yard catch and run. Brett Keisel right there too. Say what you will but this team has athletic, high-effort DL.
- Remember there being reports early in camp that Cortez Allen would move to the slot with Gay outside in nickel. Not the case on Saturday. Could be a product of the team giving Allen as many reps on the outside as possible after missing the first half of the preseason.
- 3rd and 15, 10:23. No Steeler defender has their hand down. CB blitz plus Worilds stunting, looping to the inside.
- Punt return bodies mid-2nd. Thomas, Batch McCoy, Worilds, David Jonson, Jones, Wilson, Golden, Gay, Ike.
- 2nd and 9, 7:36 2nd. Good play from Mike Adams. Does get beat around the edge by Tamba Hali which obviously, is not good. But that’s going to happen against one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. But he doesn’t completely double-over and pushes Hali up the arc. Lets Ben step up and complete the pass to Cotchery.
- Even though Emmanuel Sanders couldn’t hang onto that deep ball in the end zone, still a beautiful throw from Ben to drop it in the bucket. And let’s be honest, Ben is an average deep ball thrower.
- Blocked FG: Rookie mistake from Jarvis Jones. He takes the outside defender than the inside. Let the outside guy deal with the angle. Don’t let a free rusher up the middle.
- Alex Smith’s long scramble down the left sideline. Only rush five (did have CB blitz) but three defenders in the same quadrant on the right side of the field. Tons of running room for Smith.
- 3rd and goal flat to Charles. Look at Timmons work around the rub on the slant/flat combo (common route in the end zone). Works overtop and able to push Charles out of bounds. That’s speed.
- KR men after that FG. Felix Jones KR, Terry Hawthorne upback. Others: Kion Wilson, Marshall McFadden, Rolle, Heyward/Will Johnson (wedge), Paulson, Michael Palmer. Did not get good look at the other two.
- I’ve been pretty critical of Dwyer this preseason but overall, his pass protection in the first half was absolutely fantastic. The only blip is not squaring up to Eric Berry on a sack. Takes the right player with both safeties blitzing, the one that is closest to the QB and the inside man, but uses his shoulder which Barry runs through.
- Felix Jones 3rd and 13 draw. Bobbled exchange between he and Ben.
- Brian Moorman’s second punt obviously came off his foot wrong. Camera shot showed him pretty disgusted with himself right after he booted it.
- The Troy hit on Alex Smith. He covered 12 yards (from the time he entered the frame to the hit) in 1.37 seconds. Chuck Yeager would be impressed.
- After missing an early tackle, Cortez Allen was on point the rest of the game. Click/closed quickly, and wrapped up. Huge when you’re going to play that loose coverage Dick LeBeau typically employs.
- Kick return men I missed earlier but saw at the end of the half. Cromartie-Smith and Chris Carter.
- McClendon did an excellent job vs Rodney Hudson. Bullied him around, as he should against the svelte Hudson. Constantly got penetration, especially on zone stretches.
- David DeCastro is really struggling with his leverage. Will double over or play too tall. A little concerning.
- 2nd half bodies on opening KR. Thomas, Terrance Garvin, Batch, Brian Arnfelt, Mike Golic/Al Woods (wedge), McCoy, Rolle, Alan Baxter, JD Woods (upback), Felix KR.
- David Johnson and Paulson started in a 2 TE set to begin the second half.
- On the next play in 21 personnel (2 RBs, 1 TE) it was Johnson in over Paulson.
- Ross Ventrone and Terry Hawthorne gunners on the first punt of the second half. Others: Baxter, Worilds, Gay (upback) McFadden, Vince Williams.
- For what it’s worth, Felix only got one drive against the Chiefs first team offense in the second half. On the next series, he was working against 2s with a first team OL.
- Ramon Foster pancaked a LB on his apparent “chest bump” with Mike Adams. Would have made for the greatest GIF ever if the camera would have caught it.
- Second team defense. Nickel to start but Woods the nose tackle in the Steelers base. Arnfelt and Heyward at DE, Jones and Carter OLB, Rolle and McFadden ILB, Curtis Brown in the nickel (not in the base defense), Josh Victorian and Hawthorne at CB. DCS and Golden at S.
- Jones rushing in a variety of ways. Straight speed rush, stunting with the DE, lining up and blitzing over the “A” gap. Quick learned, it seems.
- Jammers on the first PR. Double vice on each side. Brown, DCS, Victorian, and Wheaton.
- 2nd team OL. From L-R. Beachum, Chris Hubbard, John Malecki, Guy Whimper, Joe Long.
- Three W set with Wheaton as the “X” to open things up. Derek Moye and Justin Brown the other two. Michael Palmer at TE but that seems to indicate that David Johnson is ahead of him on the depth chart. For those in your “third string TE” pools.
- Ran a lot of Power O when Jones was in the game. Can only install a few plays for him in one day. Part of it is likely due to it being relatively easy to execute and it shows that trap blocking is still a part of our core scheme amidst the ZBS talk.
- Wheaton takes a lot of pride in his run blocking. Late 3rd quarter, falls off a block and claps his hands in frustration. Love a guy that loves the little things and takes the details seriously. Separates guys that make it from those that don’t.
- FG unit in the second half. No particular order. Beachum, Peter Titupou, Hubbard, Mike Farrell, Warren, Golic, Wilson, Carter, Arnfelt, Joe Madsen.
- Kick coverage. Rolle, Ryan Steed, JD Woods, Curtis Brown, Vince Williams, Ventrone out there on Davis’ KR for a TD. So half those guys won’t be on the roster, let alone starting on kick coverage. Should make Steelers’ fans feel a little better.
- Wheaton still mostly working only in three WR sets. Not always in the slots but 3 WR sets. Moye/Brown the two guys in 12 and 22 personnel.
- How many shows that Bob Pompeani has been forced to plug have actually made it past the first season? Anyone got a stat for that?
- Wish Al Woods would get some first team reps. He’s been dominating second teams and KC was no exception. Time to take it to the next level.
- On Jones’ interception he was hit/injured. Fullback’s entire bodyweight fell on top of him.
- Chris Carter to ROLB, Alan Baxter to LOLB following Jones’ injury.
- Shamarko Thomas with a great job to play the pocket of the receiver and force the incompletion on his 4th and 2 breakup.
- Little things can really give a veteran QB an advantage. Mid 4th quarter, screen to Moye. LB rushing gets in the path of the throw so Bruce Gradkowski drops to a side arm and completes it to Moye for a gain of eight and first down.
- Greg Warren with a low snap on punt with 4:56 to go. Butler still boomed it 54 yards.
- Third team ILB. Vince Williams and Kion Wilson. Ryan Steed and Devin Smith at CB, Ventrone and Thonas at safety.
- Garvin ended up replacing Carter at OLB. First reps I’ve seen him in at OLB this preseason.
- Heyward was very disruptive, especially collapsing the pocket when rushing. But not surprising vs the second team OL for the Chiefs.
- Only snaps I saw Ta’amu play was on Ryan Succopp’s game-tying FG with 1:32 left in the 4th.
- Jeremy Wright getting a few snaps late in the game.
- Kelvin Beachum channeling his inner “butt block” but couldn’t even successfully execute that.
- Almost exclusively single high with Ventrone and Thomas in the slot/box. Few times the team went to nickel, Thomas was the nickelback and Golden came in to play safety.
- Alan Baxter getting low to get past the RT and strip Daniels late in the 4th.
- Shaun Suisham getting his nose dirty, making the tackle on the OT kickoff.
- Hebron Fangupo’s first snap at nose tackle came with 13:29 left in OT. But working ahead of Ta’amu.
- Daniels scramble for a first down on 3rd and 16 in OT. Al Woods loops around, leaving a big gap for the QB to run through.
- 4th and 1 toss in OT. OLB Garvin pancakes. Devin Smith fooled to follow WR on fake crackback. Edge wide open.
- Game winner. Simple smash route (curl + 7 route). WR hit on the corner.
- Chris Hubbard had trouble sticking on his blocks.
- Don’t talk about John Malecki a lot and he’s got that Doug Legursky mold that I’m not a fan of. But he’s done a solid job this preseason.
And to wrap things up, another edition of the Moorman v Butler punting battle. Distances and hangtimes below.
Moorman (who started): 4.58 (43), 3.63 (30)
Butler: 4.58 (52), 4.47 (50), 4.75 (54), 3.65 (45)
Moorman had no “NFL” punst according to Danny Smith (45 yards and 4.2 hangtime). Butler had three of four. To me, he should win this battle. He’s simply outplayed Moorman.