Inside The Tape: Breakdown Of Steelers Versus Panthers

By Alex Kozora

Breaking down the final preseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers. Starting with the next game review, you’ll get pictures from the vantage point of All-22 Tape, infinitely better than what the TV broadcast is able to provide.

First Half

– Starting 11 on defense. Steve McClendon NT, Ziggy Hood/Cameron Heyward DE, Chris Carter/Jason Worilds OLB, Brian Rolle/Marshall McFadden ILB, Curtis Brown/Cortez Allen CB, and Da’mon Cromartie-Smith and Robert Golden/S.

William Gay enters the game on the second snap in the Steelers’ nickel, playing in the slot.

– 2nd and 8, 12:53 1st. No Steeler with their hand down. Nickel blitz bringing Gay.

Ted Ginn’s first TD. Really hard for me to tell who was at fault. My best guess is that it’s Cover 1 Robber which would absolve the blame on Cromartie-Smith (who reads the QBs eyes and disrupts crossing routes). So inclined to put the blame on Curtis Brown but impossible to say for sure.

– 1st team KR coverage. Kion Wilson, McFadden, Rolle, David Paulson, Michael Palmer, Heyward/Will Johnson (wedge), Terry Hawthorne (upback) and Felix Jones (KR).

Landry Jones of course starting at QB. David Johnson starting at TE with Markus Wheaton and Jerricho Cotchery opening things up at WR.

– Like I saw in Week 2 vs the Washington Redskins, Marcus Gilbert does a terrific job of sticking and driving at the second level. Helped open up a 3rd and 14 draw for Howling that went for a first down early in the first.

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Jonathan Dwyer’s run immediately after that went for a first down. Does look good initially, cutting back to make the safety miss. But bear in mind the safety is coming across on a 90 degree angle so you’d actually have to try to get tackled by him.
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– Jones to Paulson TD. Obviously, great velocity from Jones to drive the ball (I’m doing another play-by-lay of the rookie later in the week, comparing to the last recap). Good ball placement, throwing to the inside shoulder away from the LB. Lets Paulson box him out.

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– FG unit from L-R. Paulson, Heyward, Kelvin Beachum, David DeCastro, Greg Warren, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Palmer, with Brian Moorman holding.

– Still convinced that wasn’t actually Moorman but a four year old in oversized hand-me-downs.

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– Very frustrating play from Chris Carter. 8:16 left in the first quarter, 1st and 10. Playaction boot right from Derek Anderson. Carters starts to rush the QB but then pulls up and turns around to try and cover the flat before Anderson throws the ball. Carter has no chance of stopping anything in the flat and the pass is complete for an eight yard gain. Rush the QB the whole way through and if you can’t get to him, throw your arms up and try and knock it down. Can’t rush and drop. Just bizarre.

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– Following play, great job by Worilds to seal the edge, forcing the RB inside for a gain of one.

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– First team jammers. Double vice on each side. Shamarko Thomas/William Gay, Robert Golden/Allen. Justin Brown 1st team PR.

– Deep ball from Jones to Wheaton midway through the first was underthrown by Jones, who underthrew Wheaton last week too. He had the cornerback beat and if that throw hits him in stride, it’s an easy touchdown.

– First team gunners: Brown and Thomas. Golden the upback, starting three of the four preseason games there. Other on punt coverage: Nathan Overbay, David Paulson, Kion Wilson, Brian Rolle, Jason Worilds, and Jonathan Dwyer.

Tells you all you need to know about how valuable they thought Dwyer was. To have him on punts in the 4th preseason game. He was still out there on the Reggie Dunn safety late in the game, too. But he did sum up what everyone was thinking in one gesture.

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– Will Johnson’s final play was on a Dwyer run with nine minutes left in the first. Couple players roll into the back of his leg. Can kind of see it from this picture.

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Ike Taylor one of the jammers late in the first quarter. Surprised and disagree with putting him out there, especially considering he didn’t see a snap on defense. No need to risk it, even if the chances are minimal.

– 2nd team OL. L-R. Beachum, Chris Hubbard, John Malecki, Guy Whimper, Joe Long.

– Hubbard screwed up on a draw. Both LBs blitz the “A” gaps and instead of sliding down, he doubles the DT. LB shoots through free and blows the play up for a loss.

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– 1st and 10, 1”51 1st. Bad all around from Carter (again). Doesn’t provide backside contain vs the run and then comes up too high and misses the tackle on the back.

– 2nd team DL in with 1:18 left in the opening quarter. Al Woods LE, Hebron Fangupo NT, Brian Arnfelt RE.

– Is this a photographer with sunglasses on his head or did Cousin It make an appearance to the game?

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– First time I got a good look at the kick coverage unit midway through the second quarter. DCS, Thomas, Palmer, Paulson, Mike Golic/Heyward (wedge), Rolle, McFadden.

– Ginn’s 2nd TD. Looks like a two deep shell. Assume Brown has curl/flat responsibility since Worilds is running with the TE down the seam so it isn’t the OLB’s role. Cromartie-Smith flips his hips way too late. Not even fully turned by the time Anderson lets the ball go.

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– Beachum moved to center two series after coming into the game. Malecki to RG, Whimper to RT, Long to LT.

Jamie McCoy has been this past few season’s version of Walter Young. Always hanging around in preseason but not any farther.

Josh Victorian’s first appearance on defense the play after the two minute warning. Alan Baxter also replaced Worilds on this play.

– Greg Warren had another low snap right before the half. Twice in as many weeks. And a later snap to Moorman on a punt was off line. Just pure speculation here but would not be shocked to see us bring someone else in off the waiver wire and cut Warren.

– FG unit on Suisham kick at the end of half. L-R. Wilson, McCoy, Hubbard, Whimper, Warren, Arnfelt, Golic, Joe Madsen, Carter.

Second Half

– KR unit to begin the second half. Justin Brown, Alan Baxter, Vince Williams, McCoy, Woods/Golic (wedge), Terry Hawthorne (upback), Reggie Dunn (KR).

– Palmer starting the second half at tight end.

– Malecki has done a nice job hitting a moving target on combo blocks. Especially for a guy with so many physical limitations working against him (short arms, average at best athlete). He really had a solid camp. Starting to grow on me.

Ross Ventrone/Derek Moye starting gunners in the second half. Others on PR. Overbay, Carter, DCS, McFadden, Golden (upback), Baxter.

– 2nd team defense. Woods/Arnfelt DE, Alameda Ta’amu NT, Williams/Wilson ILB. Carter/Baxter OLB. Isaiah Green/Victorian CB, Ventrone/Thomas S.

– Chris Carter FINALLY was showing flashes of getting low enough when rushing the passer. But still too little too late and had fair share of bad plays.

– Next play after Carter’s sack. Goes back to useless inside spin and all is right with the world.

– 2nd and 5, 5:11 left in the 3rd. DT shoots gap vacated by pulling Hubbard. Blows up the TE, forces Felix Jones to take a wide angle and the play goes nowhere. One must-have on any trap blocks. No one down the line can get blown back or the whole play falls apart.

– Pretty sure the team has gotten rid of Whimper’s kickslide on 3rd and long, obvious pass plays. Instead of the normal kickslide at a 45 degree angle, he takes the old school, high school taught straight drop back. Probably because it’s quicker for him and it’s easier for him to mirror too any initial inside steps. Multiple instances of this and you still see the kickslide at times but here’s one example.

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– NFL Combine 40 yard dash for Derek Moye on the INT. At top speed, running from the 20 to the opposing 40, I clocked him at 3.8-3.9 seconds (again, full speed, so don’t expect him to challenge Usain Bolt). From when he started running to 40 yards after (10 to midfield) he was at 5.05. Great hustle no matter how you slice it.

– Carter FF. Good play I guess but Jimmy Clausen really helped him out. Tried to stiff arm him and then held the football two feet away from his body. So there’s that.

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– 1:34 left in the 3rd. Madsen and Golic make their offensive line debuts at C and RG respectively.

– Fangupo back in the game late 3rd. He and Ta’amu rotated throughout.

Terrance Garvin replaced Carter to start the 4th quarter.

– Vince Williams shooting through a gap and making the tackle all while falling over bodies on the goalline early in the 4th quarter.

– Watching this second team offensive line during these four games has taken years off my life. It’s like Super Size Me but more hazardous for my health.

– Hawthorne at CB at the 10:35 mark in the 4th. Devin Smith the CB opposite to finish out the game.

– Just really surprising to see both McFadden and Rolle get the axe after being the 2nd team ILBs for almost all of camp.

– Mid 4th quarter jammers. Devin Smith and Wheaton.

– Isaiah Green gunner late in the game. With Moye who was the gunner the whole time in the second half.

Kashif Moore with a few snaps at WR and a reception. Swan song before his release.

– Even though Drew Butler has defeated Brian Moorman, we’ll look through their hangtimes and distances for a final time. *wipes away tear*

Butler: 4.43 (31 yards, LOS on CAR 43), 4.6 (33, CAR 43), 4.55 (31), 4.4 (58), 3.85 (43)
Moorman: 4.23 (44), 5.30 (57, Touchback), 4.9 (36)

Using Danny Smith’s guide for what an “NFL” punt is (4.2 seconds, 45 yards) Butler and Moorman each had one.

Of course, Butler was more focused on pinning the Panthers on two of his punts. And Moorman just missed qualifying on his first punt.

Still, looking at the whole preseason, Butler outplayed Moorman. And rightfully secured the job.

Random Thoughts on the Preseason/Regular Season

– Mike Adams concerns me more than Gilbert. Especially with Adams’ tough slate of pass rushers he’ll face this year. And Gilbert was honestly looked as good of a run blocker as Adams.

– When healthy, Jarvis Jones should start. The fact he’s been lining up all over the place shows he’s a quick learner and no doubt aided by playing with his hand up at Georgia. He still needs to show better bend as a pass rusher but to play for LeBeau, you must be sound vs the run. And Jones already is.

– Some of my guesses of who will see specific roles on special teams.

Assuming he’s healthy, Will Johnson should form the wedge with Cam Heyward. They’ve been the first team all preseason.

Robert Golden should start at upback on punts. As I noted, he’s started three of the four games there this preseason as the team has looked for someone to replace Ryan Mundy, who handled that role last season.

Pretty obvious one. Kion Wilson and Vince Williams should get a lot of time running down kicks.

Curtis Brown and Shamarko Thomas will likely be the starting gunners.

Curious as to who will be at upback on kick returns. Guys that logged a lot of time there (JD Woods, Terry Hawthorne) are obviously no longer with the team as of this writing.

– Having Steve McClendon instead of Casey Hampton should really come in handy vs teams that run a lot of zone blocking. We’ve struggled vs those teams in recent years. But having a NT that isn’t just a sitting duck and can move laterally with the flow should be a big advantage. Saw that vs Washington and KC.

– Cortez Allen looked good. Click/close was quick and a very sound tackler.

– Still expect Wheaton to contribute mainly on STs this season. He’ll he the #4 WR and they’re not going to see too many snaps in this offense. Sure, the team will get creative with him and won’t let him totally go to waste especially after a strong camp. But that’ll be inconsistent. Think of him playing maybe a little bit of gunner, possible jammer, and return work. Felix Jones and Howling are still around but a lot of the KRs have been released (Dunn, Woods, Moore, Brown).

– And would not be surprised to see Tomlin put Antonio Brown back on the PR team Week One. No one else really separated themselves. Tomlin goes with guys he trusts. He trusts AB.

Senior in college, blogging from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • MrTeabag

    Thanks for reviewing these games. I don’t know how you do it. I can’t even pay attention for the whole game despite trying my hardest. It seems the roster was made with a strong preference for special teams players and draft picks vs undrafted players. How else could you explain Chris Carter and Curtis Brown making the team? I think they thought rightly that they could sneak many of these players by without them being added to other teams rosters. As of now the only undrafted player that they released that is on another teams active roster is Adrian Robinson and they traded him.