By Alex Kozora
Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 19-16 victory against the Buffalo Bills.
- Second-team offensive line: Guy Whimper, Bryant Browning, Cody Wallace, Chris Hubbard, and Mike Adams.
- Defensive tackle Stefan Charles getting into Hubbard’s pads, taking control. Walks him back, disengages, and picks up the sack.
- Justin Brown and Darrius Heyward-Bey, working over Derek Moye, opened up as the starting base receivers.
- This is what Landry Jones sees on this incompletion to Heyward-Bey.
Makes it anyway. And the throw isn’t even to the outside shoulder where the CB is forced to play through the wide receiver. It’s to the inside shoulder and the CB breaks the pass up without issue.
- Three Steelers beat in pass protection on this snap. Cody Wallace and Bryant Browning are two. Rob Blanchflower is the third, matched up in an obvious mismatch against Manny Lawson. The veteran defensive end gets under the pads of the rookie tight end and pushes him aside.
- On the first punt of the second half, Bills’ wide receiver Kevin Elliott clocks Brad Wing. Knocks his helmet and something else (mouthguard? chinstrap? dignity?) off. To his credit, Wing stayed on his feet.
- Howard Jones enters at ROLB while Chris Carter moves to the left side.
- Golden’s fumble recovery. Have to give him credit for getting right back up after being trucked. Coaches constantly preach this in practice, getting back up after falling to the ground. Rewarded by recovering the fumble.
Two other notes. Shamarko Thomas making another splash play, forcing the fumble. And Josh Mauro is again seen running to the football.
- Mike Adams upright with his back completely locked.
The pressure on this play actually comes from Jacquies Smith working against Guy Whimper, but it’s still not a good look for Adams.
Landry Jones has to do a better job of climbing and sliding. There’s vacant space on the left to slide to but for the most part, Jones stays stagnant. Sitting duck. And it’s about 3.5 seconds from snap to throw. Ball needs to be out or Jones needs to start moving.
- Good hustle from Michael Palmer to run down and make the tackle off the recovery.
- Shot of Bryant Browning falling on his dislocated left shoulder as he dove to try and make the tackle.
Cody Wallace would move from center to left guard with Wesley Johnson entering at center.
- Antwon Blake’s penalty in the end zone. Late flipping his hips, can’t let the receiver eat up his cushion. Forced to grab the receiver to avoid allowing the easy six.
I know opening up your hips makes him vulnerable to the inside but he’ll have help from the safeties and underneath linebacker versus any in breaking routes. There’s no help to the outside. Must protect it.
- Like McCullers’ anchor on the goalline. Looks like he was double-teamed. Wish we had coaches’ tape. Appears to free up an ILB.
- Next play, the Bills’ TD. Still admire the effort by Vince Williams here. Works off center Macky MacPherson and thrusts his forearm into the chest of the back. Just again shows he’s one of the most physical players on this team. Nearly stops him short of the goal line.
- Tauren Poole was the first backup running back to enter the game.
- Mike Adams’ feet go dead on his first punch here. Gets caught in trail. Base looks to be too wide as well. Should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Same play. 3rd and 5 and Martavis Bryant drops the pass. Can’t make that mistake. Two drops and one penalty for the rookie. Tough to earn the coaching staff’s trust.
- Huge lane between Dan Molls and Brice McCain on this punt return. Looks to be the fault of Rob Blanchflower, one of the edge protectors on this punt. It’s his lane. Can’t get off the block on the snap and arrives late to his lane. TJ Graham responds with a 23 yard return. Turns a 50 yard punt into a net of only 27.
- I honestly had no clue intentional grounding rules didn’t apply if there wasn’t any pressure. Am I the only one?
- Nice job by Stephon Tuitt collapsing the pocket. Doesn’t come against a furniture mover either. That’s 2nd round pick Cyrus Kouandjio.
- Another two way screen involving Archer as was the case on his big catch and run last week. Wes Johnson works to the linebacker but his cut block fails.
- Late third quarter, Rob Blanchflower opens as the lone TE in 11 personnel.
- Bruce Gradkowski shows how to react when the pocket begins to collapse. Like what happened to Jones, Mike Adams is walked back. Gradkowski keeps his eyes downfield while climbing the pocket. It’s a simple checkdown to Poole but it’s not a negative play. What competent QBs are able to avoid.
- Ross Ventrone replaced Heyward-Bey as a gunner late in the third quarter.
- Howard Jones rushed with his hand in the dirt a ton in this game. Basically some 4-3 looks.
- Same play as the picture shown above.
Jones crashes down and the Bills finally get him, Thad Lewis keeping the play. Virtually every Steeler bit on the fake to the back, except for Josh Mauro.
- Next play. Same read. Howard Jones smartly stays at home.
- Robert Golden’s pick. Cat blitz with Antwon Blake rushing in free. Thad Lewis forces the throw and Golden capitalizes.
- Bryce Davis came in before Eric Waters at tight end and wound up playing more snaps on offense, 4 to 1. Ruh roh for Waters’ fans.
- The silver lining is the team threw a screen to Waters on his lone snap. Showed it in practice earlier in the week.
- Martavis Bryant replaces Brice McCain as a gunner on punt coverage, making Bryant and Ventrone the duo for the remainder of the game.
- Third-team defensive front seven enters with 22 seconds left in the third quarter: Ethan Hemer/Hebron Fangupo/Brian Arnfelt. Terence Garvin/Dan Molls the ILB. Vic So’oto/Howard Jones at OLB.
- Hemer and So’oto pushed down the line, opening up a cutback lane that results in a medium run.
- Love to see this from Ben. During his interview in the 4th quarter, check out his left wrist. Still wearing the playcalling sleeve. Shows he’s active and still engaged in the game. That’s what you want from the leader of your team.
- Speaking of the interview, we’ve caught KDKA again. The “live” interview with Big Ben. We cut back to the live play mid-interview, and guess who is standing along the sidelines.
- Roy Philon and Josh Mauro getting some work in nickel early in the final quarter.
- After Cody Wallace is sat for the day, Chris Hubbard moves to LG and Will Simmons works at RG. Simmons has only worked at RG the entire camp. Not going to make this Steelers’ club, even the practice squad, as a one-trick pony.
- Blanchflower screws up his run blocking assignment. Needs to crash down on the end and let the RG kick out the EMOL, the safety in the box. Ends up doubling the safety and the end comes in free to make the tackle behind the line.
- Third-team secondary enters now. Isaiah Green at LCB and Lew Toler at RCB. Jordan Dangerfield and Ross Ventrone at safety.
- Camera framing 101. If you can see if a guy is keeping up on his flossing, you’re way too close.
- Double-vice jammers in the 4th. Heyward-Bey and Toler on one side, Justin Brown and Green on the other.
- Anyone know what Mike Adams is doing here? Fires off the ball, chipping and working to the LB like it’s a run. Think he thought that was the call? Weird.
- Jordan Hall appeared to enter the game before Miguel Maysonet. Neither received a carry.
- So’oto showing some serious bend on this play. That’s what you want to see. Jeff Tuel is forced to scramble.
- On the play after Lew Toler lets an interception through his hands, he gets pancaked on a stalk block. Ouch.
- Although it was against a 290 pound rookie center, Hebron Fangupo had a good game. Showed his strength and constantly got penetration.
- Defensive end Nick Williams didn’t play his first snap until there was 3:15 left in the game. Got just six snaps.
- Poor waist bend by Chris Hubbard. Ends up falling to the ground as the DT swims over.
- So’oto FF has been broken down well enough. Great hand fighting. I’ll add one more thing, following the recovery. Look at So’oto hip check OT Chris Hairston. If football doesn’t work out, maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins should give him a call.
Ben Roethlisberger looked great and the no huddle was effective. Type of performance we’re going to expect, and frankly need, during the regular season. Wanted to see how Landry Jones responded and he shrunk to the challenge. One of the top traits needed in a QB is mental toughness. Jones fell apart.
Le’Veon Bell was able to make something out of nothing once or twice on a day where the running game was fairly nondescript. Tauren Poole was taken off as the first team upback on kick returns. We’ll see what the pecking order is in the all-important third preseason game, the final one before the first wave of cuts.
Josh Harris, Jordan Hall, nor Miguel Maysonet did anything to get noticed on offense.
David Paulson continues to make a couple plays along with being placed on two first team special teams units. Rob Blanchflower received an increase in snaps. Though he does look to finish his blocks, his run blocking currently leaves a lot to be desired. Eric Waters’ one snap on offense is very telling. When Bryce Davis takes away your playing time, there’s a problem.
More “bad” from Martavis Bryant. Again, the two drops and the penalty. Darrius Heyward-Bey running over Derek Moye is obvious bad news for 14. CJ Goodwin again failed to play a single snap. Kashif Moore, James Shaw, and even Lanear Sampson all saw playing time. Tomlin has talked about the enormous red flag it is to be a healthy scratch in the second game.
I want to see a big play out of Justin Brown before the preseason is over.
Marcus Gilbert quietly handled his own against Mario Williams. Don’t think he allowed a pressure. Kelvin Beachum had his hands full with Jerry Hughes, who shows a really good first punch. But Beachum didn’t give up any sacks.
Biggest thing I took away with Wesley Johnson were no botched center/quarterback exchanges. Subtle but a great sign. Again, all about earning trust. Might need some work on his hand placement though. Saw him get grabby in pass protection.
Chris Hubbard was better but I certainly wouldn’t put him on par with the high marks Pro Football Focus gave him.
No snaps on offense for Chris Elkins. Was thinking he at least had a chance for the practice squad. Very unlikely now.
All around good play here. Hebron Fangupo was a backfield presence. Stephon Tuitt and Josh Mauro ran to the ball well. Daniel McCullers again showed the ability to anchor. Again, needs to absorb chips and down blocks better.
Nick Williams with very few snaps. Al Lapuaho with zero. Both terrible signs.
Howard Jones had his hand in the ground and dropped quite often. Haven’t really seen the arm extension I see from Jones in practice. Has the length to get into a tackle’s pads and leverage him. Overall, want to see some better hand use. For as much as we talk him up, he’s still a guy who has yet to record a sack or really generate a whole lot of pressure.
Positive marks from Arthur Moats and Vic So’oto. First time So’oto has really awaken, fluky fumbles from last week aside, so I want to see what he can do in potentially limited action next week.
Ryan Shazier was great. Lawrence Timmons was even better. Sean Spence came back down to Earth a little bit but it was still a fine performance. Is it blasphemy to at least entertain the notion of Dan Molls taking Jordan Zumwalt’s spot on the practice squad? I don’t think it is.
Isaiah Green was better, yes? Very disappointed Shaq Richardson couldn’t suit up. Major missed opportunity at some quality playing time. Next week will probably be limited too with the starters playing a half and the second-teamers needing their snaps. We’re talking 10-15 snaps tops for Richardson next week. Very difficult to make the team that way.
Lew Toler whiffed on his lone chance to show anything.
Mike Mitchell does need to reign things in a little but but I appreciate a little swagger from my secondary. Confidence is key there. Shamarko Thomas has ridiculous closing speed. And have to give credit to Ross Ventrone. He gives it his all when he’s out there. Plays like he is about to get cut. Because he is.
1. Ben Roethlisberger
2. Lawrence Timmons
3. Ryan Shazier
4. Marcus Gilbert
1. Landry Jones
2. Antwon Blake
3. Chris Carter
4. Mike Adams
- One last note. Ontario rocks.