Steelers vs Eagles – First Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations upon reviewing the first half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.

  • On the third play of the Eagles’ opening drive, Jason Worilds was turned inside, providing a clean lane for LeSean McCoy. While Ryan Shazier nearly got to the play, he couldn’t put forth much effort on the missed tackle.
  • On the following play, Lawrence Timmons was able to cut through the stretch zone look to blast McCoy in the backfield for a loss of five.
  • As was the theme, the Steelers defense spent much of their time in the nickel. It appeared to be effective early on, but part of that was Nick Foles struggling with his accuracy, such on the second and 15 throw.
  • Leading up to this game, Ike Taylor had not been tested much in the preseason. He met his first challenge by climbing over Riley Cooper on third down to swat the ball out of his hands for an incompletion to force a punt.
  • Dri Archer called for a fair catch far too early on that punt, as well. There was hardly a defender within 10 yards of him when he fielded the ball. This raises the question as to how valuable he’ll be if he’s not willing to return punts with some hostility in his face.
  • Sloppy execution on the Steelers’ first carry. Neither Heath Miller nor David DeCastro could move his man in time, and Kelvin Beachum fell down on the back side.
  • After another short carry, Ben Roethlisberger  found Miller for a first down. That may have been his first catch of the preseason that moved the chains.
  • The right side of the offensive line picked up their assignments well on the following play, and Le’Veon Bell showed his patience once again for seven yards.
  • He may have gotten walloped after the fact, but Bell clearly dropped the pass on the play after.
  • It was clear that LeGarrette Blount was the more impressive of the two backs on the night, as his one-cut style proved very effective against the Eagles’ front seven, albeit on limited opportunities.
  • Beachum had easily his worst performance of the preseason so far, both in run blocking and in pass protection. Meanwhile, Maurkice Pouncey may have had his best.
  • The opening drive ended with Justin Brown making a mistake, resulting in an incomplete pass. I don’t know that he makes this roster without showing something in the final preseason game.
  • Miscommunication between Foles and McCoy on the first play of their second drive. McCoy thought pass—Foles thought run.
  • Worilds failed to keep backside contain on the following play, allowing the shifty McCoy to turn upfield for a significant gain.
  • One player who actually has been improving with each preseason game is Cameron Heyward.
  • The inside linebackers let Brent Celek go by them and Foles caught the defense in the blind spot of their zone a play after hitting Jeremy Maclin shallow with William Gay giving him a cushion. The throw gave Gay no time to close on the play because it came nearly off the snap.
  • Worilds showed nice dip getting around the right tackle to force an incompletion on Foles. Jarvis Jones also got good push, but against a backup tight end.
  • On the next play, Jones hemmed in McCoy and forced him up into the gut of the defense.
  • A defensive hold kept the Eagles’ drive alive after a dropped pass on third and six that may not have been good for a first down to begin with.
  • Cortez Allen’s one play of the half: a diving pass deflection on the following play near the goal line.
  • Fake screen left, throw screen right, touchdown. It seemed like McCoy was Jones’ responsibility on the play, but he bit on the fake screen to the opposite side of the field. The Eagles’ linemen did a nice job of blowing up some defenders in space down the field.
  • Even though the pass was incomplete, Blount stepped up on the quick throw and popped the free rusher to give Roethlisberger the space to throw.
  • Another reception by Miller and another first down. Finally starting to get into the offense this preseason.
  • Blount with another good pickup in pass protection, Roethlisberger misses his mark shooting for Markus Wheaton once again on the drive.
  • And again, Roethlisberger can’t find Wheaton at the sideline. The quarterback’s inaccuracy hurt both the offense and the defense.
  • Worilds blew by Celek on the second play of the Eagles’ next drive to tackle McCoy for no gain. Troy Polamalu blitzed and disrupted the line’s blocking assignments.
  • Third and four, Cooper beats Taylor for the first down and also draws a flag in the process.
  • Heyward was blown off the ball on the next play by a double team, but I like Worilds’ effort to work down the line and get in on the play.
  • Jones fails to wrap up on Matthew Tucker and the back drags him upfield several yards on third and one.
  • Mike Mitchell provided the big collision, but Celek held on to the downfield pass.
  • The pass rush gave Foles too much time to throw on third and eight when he hit Zach Ertz for the first down. Hard to blame Shazier much for losing him on that play.
  • Polamalu failed to pick up Maclin on the next play for an easy eight-yard completion.
  • Mitchell did well to come up and help Gay on the tackle on the next play.
  • Sproles scored on the left side of the defense from one yard out as Cam Thomas couldn’t hold the point.
  • There were many plays throughout the night that showed me the Steelers were not used to playing against a defense with this much range and explosiveness. The crossing route to Archer for just a short gain was one of them.
  • I’m not sure how much uglier this game would have been without Antonio Brown. Whenever he got involved, it seemed to spark the offense into some sign of life.
  • On the next play, Wheaton tries to double clutch a pass in traffic, loses the ball. The only receiver making any of the tough catches this preseason has been Brown.
  • Ramon Foster allows a free rusher on the following play, forcing Roethlisberger out of the pocket. He pump fakes, scrambles, lofts a pass into what he thinks is empty space for an interception.
  • Sproles runs into his own man and Polamalu occupies the space he should have been in to get the ball back.
  • On first down from the 31, Brown gets tripped up over a defender’s feet.
  • On third down, Brown breaks off his route to move upfield, giving Roethlisberger a target, but he throws it behind the receiver and leaves the ball hanging for the defender to catch up with and deflect. Could have been a big play, turns into a missed field goal.
  • Taylor and Gay team up on second and one to stop up a wide receiver screen for no gain. Like they haven’t seen that in practice.
  • On third and one, it’s Worilds and Stephon Tuitt making the stop.
  • The ensuing drive got off to a nice start on the ground until a hold broke up the momentum. It was three and out from there with a tipped pass ending the drive.
  • Another well-blocked screen from the Eagles aided by diversion with a sidearm delivery. Mobile offensive linemen sealing downfield.
  • The offensive line completely washed out the defense two plays later for a big gain by Sproles off the left side, taking advantage of all the nickel looks.
  • Taylor gets blocked out on a screen for a first down into the red zone. On the next play, Sproles badly beats Jones in coverage, but the pass isn’t there. Could have easily been a touchdown.
  • After whiffing on a tackle attempt early on the drive, Allen comes up to cut the receiver down for a short gain on third and 10 to force a field goal. Okay, so he made two plays in the half.
  • Blount showed well on his kickoff return, but it took up time off the clock.
  • Beachum beaten at the end of the half for a sack and strip, the first time Roethlisberger went down this preseason.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • frednash

    It looked like we played vanilla

    Base schemes

    Eagles play exotic fast football

    Preseasons don’t win Super Bowls