Steelers vs. Redskins: Game Recap

Ahmad RashadAnalyst IAugust 13, 2011

Steelers vs. Redskins: Game Recap

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    After several months of lockout and debate, NFL fans finally get to relish in actual football being played. Even though preseason games are dominated by backups doing battle, bad football is still better than no football at all.

    The Steelers opened the preseason against the Redskins, and the opening debut did not go as planned as the Redskins won 16-7.

    The game was sloppy and full of mistakes, to say the least.

    While that was to be expected, it was still a sight for sore eyes if you're a Steelers fan. On the bright side, some players did step up and make a significant impact.

    With that said, let's take a look at which players impressed and which players need some extra practice after the first game of the year.

The Starters

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    Since the starters only played minimal snaps, they get an entire slide dedicated to them. Polamalu, Ward and Harrison were all held out of the game due to precautionary reasons.

    I fully expected the defense to come out firing on all cylinders. However, things did not go as planned.

    The Redskins started their first possession at their one-yard line. The Steelers let them methodically march all the way down to the thirteen before finally putting a halt to the drive. To make matters worse, most of the yards came on the ground. The Steelers got gashed by Tim Hightower for multiple big gains on that drive alone.

    For our sake, I hope the defense never has to let us witness that kind of beating again.

    On offense, things were inconsistent. Ben and Leftwich both received time with the starters, with Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown their No. 1 and No. 2 receiver.

    Apart from some nice catches by Brown, the offense accomplished nothing. Mike Wallace was overthrown and had only three yards on a receiver screen.

    On third down, the protection would break down and a sacks occurred. That would be a common theme for the rest of the night.

     

    Who Impressed? 

    Defensively, Ryan Mundy was the only one who impressed me. Since Troy was inactive for the game, Mundy got the start next to Clark.

    I consider his first start a success as he was constantly around the ball all game and made the necessary stops.

    Mundy led the team in tackles with eight, with seven of them solo.

    On offense, the only person that really impressed was Pouncey, and that was to be expected. To be fair, the starters had only 5-6 snaps, so it was pretty hard to judge.

     

    Who Needs To Improve?

    On defense? Everybody! How do you let any team who starts from the one get all the way down to your own thirteen? It's just ridiculous.

    Does the absence of Troy Polamalu have that much of an effect on the team even in a preseason game? Obviously so.

    Offensively, the only thing that needs to improve is Ben's timing with Wallace. On the second play, Wallace had his man and the safety beat by at least five steps and Ben overthrew him.

    That's something that has to be fixed pronto. 

Offense

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    With the lack of OTAs and minicamps, I didn't expect the offense to show anything too impressive in the first game.

    What I didn't expect was for the offense to stall, stall and stall some more. The protection was horrendous, and receivers were not getting open.

    What's worse is that the Steelers had a grand total of 186 yards and only converted two out of 11 third downs. That is just pathetic

    Under center were Leftwich, Batch and Dixon—in that order. Out of the three, only Lefty did a somewhat adequate job.

    Who Impressed? 

    I am completely torn between Antonio Brown and Issac Redman as to who had the best night.

    Brown showed a lot of maturity with four catches for 64 yards. Redman showed some powerful running as he finished the day with five carries for 42 yards and a nice 22-yard touchdown run. Both players definitely need to have the ball come the their way more often this upcoming season. 

    Byron Leftwich had a pretty solid day, hitting Brown and Battle for some nice passes. As of right now, I think he deserves to backup Big Ben as he clearly outperformed Batch and Dixon.

    Who Needs To Improve?

    Everyone on the offensive line.

    The pass protection wasn't even average. The line was repeatedly beat by the blitz, especially on the left side where Gilbert was always a half-second late. 

    All of the tight ends were terrible at picking up blockers. Before the game, I thought David Johnson was a shoe-in for the backup tight end spot.  After his performance, I can see why the Steelers are trying to sign a veteran tight end. Johnson normally doesn't miss blocks, but during the game he looked lost and slow.

    The run blocking was average, but it wasn't much better. There were plenty of missed blocks to go around.

    With the exception of Brown, none of the wide receivers showed me anything. Battle was off to a good start, but developed a case of the drops.

    When it came to quarterbacks, Dixon only completed one pass and had one nice run. Otherwise, he missed his throws or was sacked.

    Batch didn't do much better, as he only completed two out of four passes.

    Dwyer carried the ball five times, but only gained seven yards. He looked slow and sluggish, and you could tell he's been out of shape.

    Just an all around ugly day for the offense. 

Defense

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    The defense saw the majority of the action as the offense couldn't seem to stay on the field. While they were on the field, it was a sore sight to see.

    The defense was getting itself shredded on the ground and through the air. At the end of the day, the Redskins gained 452 yards against the Steelers.

    It hurt to watch, but I managed to get through to the end. The good news is that they held Washington to only 16 points.

    Also, in the Steelers defense, the Redskins left their starters in until for at least half of the game. The Steelers took theirs out after the first series

    Who Impressed?

    I finally got to see Cameron Heyward in live action and I wasn't disappointed. The rookie showed excellent penetration and even some nice pass rush from the defensive end position.

    Keenan Lewis, who is on his last legs in Pittsburgh, finally showed what he was capable of. While most fans will be quick to point out he gave up a lot of catches, most of them were short passes underneath.

    Thanks to superb tackling, those catches went for minimal gain.

    Ryan Mundy saw action the entire game and was a complete ball hawk. He didn't get beat and led the team in tackles with eight.

    Jason Worilds saw a bulk of snaps as he played the majority of the game. 

    The Redskins ran a lot of boot passes and Worilds did an excellent job of not biting on the run and staying with his man the entire time. His pass rush may not have been hitting home, but his coverage was astute all night long.

    I can't believe I am saying this, but William Gay played rather well. He had sound tackling and actually managed to stick with his man all night.

    He may have gotten beaten once, but for Gay, that's something to cheer about. 

     

    Who Needs To Improve?

    The secondary had more holes than swiss cheese. They made Rex Grossman and Kellen Clements look like Peyton Manning they were completing passes so easily.

    This week, I'll give them a pass as they were on the field for almost forty minutes. However, they have to make some improvement by next week.

    The linebackers have got to tackle in the run game. Way too many tackles were missed that should have been made.

    They also need to flow to the ball better. Washington ran a lot of stretch and toss plays, and I didn't feel a sense of urgency to get to the ball carrier.

Special Teams

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    Who Impressed? 

    Daniel Sepulveda's first punt was a beauty as he pinned the Redskins on their own one-yard line. Unfortunately, with all the kickoffs going out the endzone, that was the only impressive thing all night.

     

    Who Needs To Improve?

    The coverage units. I had a gut feeling that they were going to allow a big play and they did.

    Josh Wilson returned the ball from eight yards deep in his own endzone and took it all the way out close to the Steelers 40

    The tackling was pathetic on the return. What was worse was that Suisham looked like Jeff Reed on his tackle attempt.

    Yes, I know this was a preseason game, but I don't think Steeler Nation can stomach a repeat of 2009.

    The Redskins kicker Shayne Graham needs to practice a bit more as he missed two field goals—one from 29 yards and the other from 50 yards. 

    I'm glad he missed them. It made the game less embarrassing.

Injuries

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    As far as I know, only a few players suffered injuries.

    The most significant one was to Ike Taylor who broke his thumb. Tomlin doesn't know if surgery will be required, but Taylor will miss a few weeks.

    Keenan Lewis left the game with a calf injury and Sunny Harris left with a right foot injury. Timmons and Clark also got banged up a little bit, but they were able to shake it off.

Final Thoughts

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    If I had to grade the Steelers performance in this game, I would give them a D+. 

    The defense got their butts handed to them on the opening drive as Tim Hightower ran up and around the staunch Steelers defense. The defensive starters played twice as many snaps as Tomlin said they would, and it almost cost them Timmons and Clark. Luckily, they were able to shake it off and were unhurt.

    I would start ranting on the backups, but I give them a slight pass because they were on the field for thirty nine minutes. Not to mention the fact that Redskins left most of their starters in well after the Steelers removed theirs. 

    The offense has a lot of work to do when they get back to camp. The show they put on was horrendous.  There were way too many missed blocking assignments and the receivers have got to get open.

    I still hate the new kickoff rule with a passion. It takes too much of the excitement out of the game seeing all of the kickoffs going out of the end zone 

    All in all, I think the most important thing is not to overreact to one preseason game. Already, on Twitter, people are saying the Steelers are done for and the season is over.

    That is untrue. It's one game, folks. Even though the Steelers stunk it up, that doesn't mean it's the end of the season. 

    Here's to a better performance next week at home against the Eagles.