It’s still broke.
The run defense is still soft. That is my initial takeaway from last night Steelers’ preseason opener, a 31-14 win, over the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Landry Jones is ahead of Mason Rudolph (and should be), but is he worth keeping around as a lame duck?
- Fitzgerald Toussaint doesn’t know that he is the odd man out in the Steelers’ backfield because he was the best back in the game last night.
- Steelers’ quarterbacks might want to hire a personal injury lawyer so they can sue James Connor when he misses a block in a real game and gets his quarterback demolished. Connor is seriously bad at blocking.
- Several “in the know” insiders have raved about Jaylen Samuels. I haven’t seen every Steelers’ practice, but what I have seen, including last night, has not been so impressive.
- Jon Bostic is way, way better than Tyler Matakevich. While Bostic was not necessarily good enough to stop the Eagles from averaging more than four yards a carry, he had a tackle in the backfield and looked much better, in general, than Matakevich.
- Dan McCullers is becoming a more than adequate sub on the defensive line.
- Damoun Patterson made a loud statement last night with a sensational touchdown reception, one of his six catches for 77 yards. The undrafted free agent from Youngstown State did exactly what an undrafted rookie needs to do – he had an impact.
- The Steelers must not be focusing too much on special teams because they, sans Chris Boswell, were very poor against the Eagles.
- Those black jerseys are absolutely gorgeous. I love the road whites, but the Steelers’ black jerseys are the best uniform in pro football.
Back to football matters – I am worried about the run defense. I will stop worrying when the Steelers prove they can stop the run. Right now, the Steelers are bleeding yardage. Bostic did show flashes of run stop acumen, but a team with Super Bowl hopes needs to sure up that part of its defense before it finds itself losing games to inferior opponents (see the January Divisional Round playoff loss to Jacksonville for a recent example).
And then there is the Steelers’ secondary. Four plays of 20 or more yards were alarming, and I would be more concerned about the 63-yard touchdown they surrendered, but Dashaun Phillips, who had to be wrapped in a blanket and rolled on the turf after being badly burned on the play, will not make the team. If he does, the Steelers are in more trouble on defense than it appears.
All that stated, the Steelers’ defense did manage to get off the field on most drives and only allowed 14 points, the only stat that really matters. I have to wonder, though, what a real NFL offense may have been able to do against the Steelers last night.
There were more positives, than negatives to take away from last night’s game. Steelers fans can definitely be excited by much of what they saw. Much more should be learned next Thursday when the Steelers travel to Green Bay for their second preseason game.
You can be sure Pittsburgh Beautiful will be watching every detail.
David Moio is Pittsburgh Beautiful’s sports writer. Catch all of his Pittsburgh sports columns right here.