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Observations from loss to Jaguars

Ray Fittipaldo 4 years ago

The Steelers have played two preseason games and many of their starters have played extended snaps. Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier has played 68 snaps and defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt has played 50. 

And while it’s way too early to make any judgments about a defense that has been vanilla and not game planned for opponents, it is important to note that the players who have been playing in the first halves of these games haven’t exactly shut down the opposition.

The Jaguars, who had one of the worst offenses in the NFL last season, scored 17 points in the first half Friday night. Starting quarterback Blake Bortles led one touchdown drive and backup Chad Henne led another. 

Other than the sack by James Harrison, the defense did not apply much pressure to Bortles or Henne. Harrison’s sack demonstrated one of the problems with the defense thus far. He also stripped Bortles and the ball laid on the ground for a second, but there were no other Steelers defenders in sight to recover it.

The Steelers did not get much pressure with their four-man fronts. On one occasion, Bortles completed a third-and-15 when the Steelers only rushed four.

The Steelers will get a much stiffer test on Sunday when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers come to town. If the Jaguars scored 17 against the Steelers first- and second-teamers, how many will the Packers score?  

*Shazier was credited with eight tackles and two QB hurries by Pro Football Focus, but he also missed some tackles. Shazier is still trying to figure out how to play under control. He can play too fast at times. He came free on a blitz on Friday night, but Bortles easily eluded him by stepping up in the pocket. The pass fell incomplete.

*Tuitt was single-blocked for most of the time he was in the game, and he didn’t get off very many of those blocks to make plays or force pressure.

*The Steelers stunted a few times early in the game on running downs, and it opened up some gaping holes for Jaguars running backs. Those stunts were not well-timed between the defensive end and the OLB and that contributed to the problems the Steelers had in run defense early in the game.

*The Steelers continue to take a long look at reserve tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who played 63 snaps at left tackle after Kelvin Beachum exited the game. Villanueva played well too, keeping a clean pocket for Landry Jones. Mike Adams might want to hurry back from his back injury.

*The Steelers kept guard Chris Hubbard on the 53-man roster last season, but he has not performed well in the first two preseason games. The Steelers did not draft an offensive lineman, but undrafted rookie B.J. Finney has been impressive and is pushing Hubbard.