Through two preseason games, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-team offense has been able to perform well, both driving down the field and scoring. On the four drives led by Ben Roethlisberger, they scored three times, and passed up on a fourth and one opportunity near midfield on the last possession.
The backup quarterbacks have not been able to command the offense with nearly the same efficiency, though admittedly they haven’t had the same personnel at their disposal.
Landry Jones got a brief look with the first-team offensive line and quickly threw an interception. Bruce Gradkowski also threw an interception late in the game, but that was on a well-contested ball to Martavis Bryant.
Speaking of Bryant, we have yet to get much of a good look at him, or really any of the wide receivers behind the starting unit, and the fact of the matter is that the first wave of cuts is fast approaching the week after this.
The Steelers typically follow the tradition of using the third preseason game as a warm-up for the real thing, where the starters often play into the third quarter.
The coaches better get these young receivers some playing time with Roethlisberger in the next game or they will have a hard time even knowing what they have.
Bryant, Justin Brown, Derek Moye, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and those behind have been at a disadvantage with the quarterbacks and linemen they have been playing with.
Brown has been targeted five times through two games, for example. How many of them have been within five yards of the line of scrimmage? Moye had six targets, most of them shallow or uncatchable, in game one, and only one target in game two.
At least Bryant managed to get some quality looks, even if he only came down with one of the difficult balls. He nearly had a touchdown in the end zone were it not for a defensive hold by one of the cornerbacks.
But as a whole, the receivers on the lower portion of the depth chart are still more or less unknown quantities in terms of being able to evaluate in game time situations, in large part because of the quarterback play.
The first-team offense should have plenty of playing time in the third preseason game, and in that time, they will need to work in some reps with the aforementioned receivers, to get them some quality reps, and some playing time with Roethlisberger.
Given all of the rave reviews of Brown during training camp and throughout the offseason, we really have seen very little out of him because he hasn’t been given the needed targets. If he is what many have said that he is, then it’s about time to show it. The same goes for the other receivers as well.