Pittsburgh Steelers: First Grades Of The Season


Opening day has come and gone for the 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 28-21 loss to the New England Patriots is in the books. Now comes time to assigns grades to last Thursday’s performances.

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The grading begins where the most success was found…offense.

Quarterback: Minus two vital weapons, Big Ben still moved the Steelers offense effectively. Despite one blown red zone appearance, Roethlisberger was sharp and made solid decisions. Grade: A.

Running back: No Le’Veon Bell, no problem. Filling in was De’Angelo Williams and he did much more than expected. 127 yards rushing later, Williams showed the Carolina Panthers that while they may have believed their former back was done, nothing could be further from the truth.

Williams performed so well that Dri Archer did not even get a touch and only Will Johnson received rushing attempts and those were only four. Williams’ debut was so encouraging that Steelers fans can’t wait until the return of Bell to see what these two will do in tandem. Grade: A+.

Wide receiver: With Antonio Brown always in tow, a grade for reliever will probably almost always surge towards the “A” classification. Last Thursday evening was just another day at the office for the iconic Brown. Nine receptions, 133 yards, a touchdown, and missing on only two targeted passes. One catch for 37 yards and Pittsburgh’s overall grade at receiver gets a jump-start with Brown’s night.

Darrius Heyward-Bey turned in a solid performance filling in for Martavis Bryant with four catches and 58 yards, one for 43 yards. Markus Wheaton added 55 yards on three receptions. All-in-all, outstanding game for the wideouts. This would have been top grade if not for Heyward-Bey’s one mistake in the end zone. Grade: A.

Tight end: Like Antonio Brown, Heath Miller is a sure thing. Eight catches in New England comes as no surprise. It must be as frustrating to Miller as it is to many Steelers fans that he has never been given the credit he deserves as one of the NFL’s best tight ends. Miller doesn’t complain instead just keeps producing and completing blocks as perhaps the best blocking tight end in the league. Other Steelers tight ends won’t get the ball much when Miller is on the field. Grade: A+.

Offensive line: With some stability developing in Pittsburgh’s offensive line the last two seasons and the addition of a Mike Munchak as the coach, the Steelers o-line is becoming one of the NFL’s best. While surrendering three sacks, on most passing plays, Ben Roethlisberger had more than enough time to get rid of the ball. De’Angelo Williams’ yardage speaks for itself in the run blocking game. Grade: A.

Kicker: Not a good debut for Josh Scobee as a Pittsburgh Steeler following a stellar career that was spent entirely with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Scobee had heads shaking with two missed field goals on his first-ever two attempts wearing Black and Gold. Whether he knew it or not or if anyone told him on the sidelines. with that second miss, Scobee became only the second Pittsburgh Steelers kicker since 1970 to miss two field goals in the same game. Grade: F.

Defensive line: In order to beat the New England Patriots, you must put some pressure on Tom Brady. Up front defensively, the Steelers failed to do that in the seasons’ first game. Despite a makeshift offensive line in front of them, Pittsburgh’s d-line could not penetrate the wall in front of them. Grade: D.

Linebackers: Always the focal point of a Pittsburgh defense, on this night, the ‘backers failed to give the kind of performance expected of them. A higher grade would have been given had Lawrence Timmons and Arthur Moats made more noise but the play of Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier kept this units head above water. Grade: B-.

Safeties: Steelers fans will certainly miss that occasional big play from Troy Polamalu. Never again will the flowing locks of hair wearing #43 take the field for Pittsburgh. With the start of this season it will be a combination of Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, and Will Allen. Against New England, they failed to make any impact plays and with the cornerbacks got scorched by Tom Brady and his offense. Grade: D.

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  • Cornerbacks: No more Ike Taylor and another season of William Gay as a starter until he can be unseated by a younger player. Cortez Allen on the other side with help from Antwon Blake and the trio was no match in coverage of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola. Grade: F.

    Punter: Unlike his counterpart Josh Scobee, Jordan Berry was also making his Steelers debut. Berry however fared better. Having to punt only twice, the Australian-born punter booted a 50-yarder then added another for 37 yards. But as advertised, Berry’s hang time was outstanding. Only one of his attempts was returned and it was for just one yard. Grade: B+.

    Coaching: Head Coach Mike Tomlin was fuming over the headset/Patriots’ game broadcast fiasco. Aside from that, he was pleased with the excellent game plan called by Todd Haley. Defensively, Keith Butler has work to do.

    There were some concerns about clock management near the end of the first half and the fourth quarter, but Tomlin with a better coaching job would still not have won this game. The loss was on the poor play of the defense and non-execution can only be attributed to the players. Grade: C+.

    Intangibles: Going into this game, the Steelers had already faced an uphill battle by taking themselves into a hostile environment and battling a team that was ready to defend their league title. Pittsburgh wasn’t expected to win so must playing well against the Patriots and keeping the game close would be a victory in itself. Grade: B.

    Overall grade: Outside a garbage time touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Steelers managed to keep this game competitive despite the poor play in defense. That is due to the potent offense that was on full display. Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership kept the game in check and while it was a loss for Pittsburgh, it was a defeat that was encouraging, Grade: C+.

    Next: Steelers: Opening Night Review From New England

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