WHAT WE LEARNED FROM STEELERS – BILLS
ABILITY THERE FROM SHAZIER TO BE DYNAMIC SIDELINE TO SIDELINE PLAYER
Ryan Shazier’s debut with the Steelers could not have gone better. In playing just over a quarter, Shazier was everywhere with 11 tackles (2 special teams tackles), 1 interception, knocked the Bills best player out of the game in Sammy Watkins, but what he showed the most was how dynamic of a player he can be in playing sideline to sideline. Shazier and Lawrence Timmons are going to be a special combination.
It’s no secret that rookies struggle to learn Dick LeBeau’s complex defense and there’s going to be some miscues with Shazier as there was a few times in coverage even against the Bills, but the difference between him and Jarvis Jones for example, who was lost last season, Shazier can rely on his freakish talent. That’s why it’s been such a smooth transition for Shazier to the NFL so far.
IDENTITY ON OFFENSE
The Steelers first team struggled to run the ball against an excellent Bills front-4 but for the first time under Todd Haley, the Steelers have an identity and that’s the “No Huddle” offense. Ben Roethlisberger was flawless going 8/11 for 128 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a 150.8 QB rating. 92 of Roethlisberger’s 128 throwing yards went to Antonio Brown (76 yard TD) and Markus Wheaton (16 yard TD) on touchdown passes and Roethlisberger was never put on the ground.
Of significance, Roethlisberger and Wheaton hooked up on a corner route in the end zone as the two are starting to show some chemistry. Wheaton has turned in an excellent camp and the only true weakness in his game is passing blocking.
From Roethlisberger to the offensive line, nearly all of the significant players on offense seemed most comfortable in the no huddle and the only way this offense doesn’t make a move into the group of the top-10 scoring offenses is if the coaching staff screws things up.
The pieces are there to be an explosive no huddle offense with Antonio Brown looking primed for another monster season, Dri Archer getting a few touches a game, and Le’Veon Bell’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
DIFFICULT DECISION COMING AT LINEBACKER
Terrence Garvin had another strong game with 7 tackles, 1 sack, and continues look like a lock to make the team. With eight spots appearing to be locked in with Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones, Athur Moats, Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, and Garvin, a difficult decision remains for the ninth linebacker spot, potentially 10th if the Steelers went with 10.
Howard Jones again continues be a playmaking machine with three fumble recoveries in two games but Vic So’oto has created two of those fumble recoveries. He’s also impressed through two preseason games. Despite Jones intriguing upside, it remains to be seen if the Steelers are comfortable enough to cut Chris Carter loose. The ninth spot is likely to go to a outside linebacker. Injuries to 6th round pick Jordan Zumwalt, who is playing inside, are starting to put him behind the eight-ball and potentially destined for the practice squad.
GOLDEN, THOMAS PUTTING PRESSURE ON WILL ALLEN
Improved play from Robert Golden and Shamarko Thomas continued on Saturday. Golden had a pass defensed in the end zone and later an interception. Both are starting to put pressure on Will Allen who sat out with a hamstring injury. Allen, though, has the trust of the coaching staff, something those two don’t yet.
Thomas has the makings of a player who’s ready to breakout but it’s likely going to take Allen taking a step back which can’t be ruled out.
MAURO IN POSITION TO EARN ROSTER SPOT
UDFA Josh Mauro had 3 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 tackle for loss vs Bills. With a strong camp and excellent play vs the Bills, Mauro has put himself in very good position to earn a roster spot and has moved above the rest of the pack for the 6th defensive lineman spot. Resigning Brett Keisel, though, could hinder Mauro’s chances of making the team.