SteelerNation.com

Winners and Losers: Week One @ Patriots

By Adam McCoy
SteelerNation.com

 

For every game played, you have players that stand out, both for good and bad things.  We’re going to look at those players, both winners and losers each week, and highlight or throw them under the bus.  

 

Winners

 

I’ll be honest, it was not very easy to find groups or individuals to fit this category, but I was able to squeak out a few winners.

Offensive Line

Any day your front five gives up only one sack, it’s a good day.  Aside from the false start call on “everyone but the center”, this unit continued to look like one of the top o-lines in the NFL, and I don’t expect that to change. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey left the game late with an ankle injury, but sources say he should be fine.

Chris Boswell

Boswell didn’t light the world on fire against the Patriots, but he mustered the only points for the Steelers, and most importantly, he didn’t miss that field goal.  It’s not a lot, but a strong start could make last season’s woes nothing but a far and distant memory.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

There will be some who crucify JuJu Smith-Schuster after his week one performance for not putting up ground-breaking numbers.  Despite being covered by the number one corner last year (according to PFF), Stephon Gilmore, JuJu still managed six receptions for 78 yards.  That’s more production that OBJ, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Devante Adams saw in week one.  So let’s keep the pitchforks away everybody, JuJu will be just fine this season.

 

Losers

 

Where do I begin?

Offensive Play Calling

Not a great first outing for Randy Fichtner and his offense.  I understand you have players that can make plays after the catch and make guys miss in the backfield, but those same guys can be threats downfield.  Apparently, that wasn’t in the playbook as Fichtner did his best to throw every screen play and every toss they had.  What really killed me was in the 2nd quarter, the Steelers had one of their many 3 and outs, every single play was a pitch left.  In what world is that feasible game plan? I understand there are a lot of new weapons for Ben Roethlisberger, and you probably ease them into things, but that’s what week three of the preseason is for.  Let Ben do what Ben does best, extend plays, and find guys down field.  You have one of the top offensive lines in football and yet your running plays suggest you have the worst.

Defensive Play Calling

I get it, we got faster at linebacker with Devin Bush and Mark Barron.  Yet are you really going to put a rookie linebacker on a running back against Tom Brady and expect him not to tear him apart?  Man coverage didn’t work at all this game.  Ever.  It was just painful to watch guys being open underneath on slants, drags, and curls all night.  Switch things up maybe?  The Steelers excel at bringing stunt blitzes in zone coverage, yet I saw none of it.  I understand it’s Tom Brady who will pick apart zone coverage if he is given the time, yet the Steelers didn’t seem to show any interest in generating pressure outside of the front four.  I really don’t want to put any blame on a single individual of the defense as they all got picked apart, but I feel they were set up for failure from the start.

Donte Moncrief

Wow, I haven’t seen a wide receiver performance like that in a long time, and it wasn’t a good one. Seven whole yards on three receptions.  That’s bad enough, but he was targeted 10 times.  Advertised a receiver who can stretch the field and go up and make contested catches, we saw none of that from Moncrief and it’s a little concerning.  Now I’m not saying give up on him entirely, but with the slew of receivers this team has, Moncrief may find himself with less opportunities, opening the door for guys like Diontae Johnson, James Washington and Johnny Holton to step up and make some plays.

 

Let us know who you thought might’ve been a “winner” or “loser” last night in the comment section below!

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