Steelers Preseason: Some Rapid Fire Conclusions

By Michael K. Reynolds

There was so little positive news to report following the lackluster effort of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Carolina Panthers that we’re going to jump right to summarizing the preseason in its entirety.

Still overly depressing? Don’t shoot the piano player.

Here are some rapid fire conclusions:

Let’s Hope The Preseason Doesn’t Matter

This was a dismal preseason by any measure. An argument can be made that the Steelers 1’s, 2’s and 3’s were each bested by their counterparts on all four opposing teams. Worse, our 1’s were bested by the Eagles 2’s and 3’s last week. There really isn’t one moment in any of the games where the Steelers looked dominating in the least. Many people argue the results of the preseason have little or no bearing toward predicting the success of the regular season. Let’s hope they are the geniuses this year.

The Most Bright Shining Note

Were there any bright spots in the preseason this year? Any scintillating moments to get the home team fans fired up? There are a few, but mostly just a splash here or there. But if we’re looking for one positive trend that came out of the preseason it’s that the starting five of the offensive line seem very capable at pass protection. How strong will they be in producing a run offense? The jury is still out.

Transition or Decline?

Is the once-vaunted Steelers defense merely in a period of transition or is it in a state of decline? Are the days of “three and outs” now just a part of Steelers lore? On the first play on defense, 350 pound tackle Cam Thomas was blown back four yards from the line of scrimmage like a pillow tossed at a teenage slumber party. That continued to be the theme throughout the game as this was the fourth match of the preseason where the Steelers “D” lost the toughness battle. Is this an anomaly or have the Steelers lost the ability to stonewall the run and to terrorize opposing quarterbacks?

Special Teams a Big Question Mark?

One of the disappointments of the preseason was the lack of opportunity Dri Archer had to show his stuff on either punts or kickoffs. Will he add flash to the return game? That remains unanswered. One thing we did see a lot of was Brad Wing punts. The result was too much inconsistency to convey confidence. And Shaun Suisham with two missed field goals and one stray extra point is an unforeseen addition to the concern column.

Now…For Some Sunshine and Warm Puppies

So without slipping into deep depression how can we look at this year’s 2014 Steelers with the cup half full? Here are some positives:

  • Ryan Shazier is a true impact addition to the defense.
  • Stephon Tuitt will be a great defensive lineman.
  • Dri Archer is Showtime every time he touches the ball.
  • Daniel McCullers may eventually take over where Casey Hampton left off.
  • The receiving corps, although a bit raw, might end up being explosive. Darrius Heyward-Bey could be the team’s best free agent steal. Between Bey, Markus Wheaton, Archer and Martavis Bryant, the Steelers may have an Olympic caliber 100-yard relay team. Antonio Brown looks well on his way to proving last year’s phenomenal season was no fluke.
  • Despite a poor performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ben Roethlisberger looks primed to be in his prime.
  • The Steelers are relatively healthy.
  • It’s only the preseason. The Steelers are undefeated like all 31 other teams.

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland series. MichaelKReynolds.com
  • WilliamSekinger

    Sounds like you have no conclusions, and I can’t fault you for that. Tomlin unlike a lot of other coaches uses the preseason to truly evaluate players. First preseason game was all about run blocking and running the football for the short time the starters were in. 2nd game was all about the no huddle passing attack. 3rd game, Ben seemed intent on getting the ball to Wheaton and that didn’t work out very well. 4th game was all about guys on the bubble. Very hard to evaluate a team not focused winning. Personally I dislike how Tomlin uses the preseason. If they start this season slow, I will be among those calling for him to change how he is preparing his teams.

  • Jason White

    When it comes to preseason I am always a glass half full kind of guy. I don’t have kneejerk reactions or make harsh statements if something goes wrong. As big of a disappointment that the 3rd preseason game was I told myself “If we’re gonna have one of these disaster games lets have it be now and not week 1 or 2.” They got their rearend whooped. If having 2nd and 3rd string guys handle your starters doesn’t humble you I don’t know what will. Take your whoopin’ and get back in that film room and in the gym and on that practice field and work. You’re not gonna get by just being there as a Pittsburgh Steeler. You gotta practice and play how the Steelers always have. I think the Steelers got through the offseason relatively healthy. Now they just gotta put it all together and go play like an underdog with a chip on their shoulders cause that is when they are at their best.

  • Paddy

    We will see, each game will be a close battle.

  • Luis Garcia

    If it was ping-pong I still would want them to win it… but hey, yeah it was pre-season and I find reasons to be hopeful. The OL, RBs, QB, and dont hate the WRs. On defense… it will be interesting! Lets go!

  • Doogie

    What I’ve seen for the defense is until Tuit and McCullers are starting, we are chasin running backs again. Maybe by the 4th game well see a move towards the 4 2 5 they experimented with? Hey this damn thing has spell check!! thank goodness.

    Secondary? well umm hope offense scores 28+ points a game.. I do expect improvement as season goes on and the first 5 games they could be 3-2 or even 4-1? or 1-4 ugh.

  • Citizen Austinite

    13-3 with a possible 19-0.
    Here, We, Go!