I had the opportunity to attend the preseason game last night. A good time, despite the final outcome. It was great to see football back. Here are a few observations:
The Offense Generally:
Initially, I liked the new look offense. Short passes, play action, a moving pocket. Terrible break for David Johnson. I though he played quite well. He was effective as a blocker, and his receptions were an added bonus. Very unfortuante that his season ended.
As much as I liked the new look offense, the Steelers are going to have to throw some more intermediate passes. The Eagles, very reminiscent of 2008, played press man on the WRs and kept their safeties close to the line. They didn't fear Sanders or Brown at all. If only there was a deep threat, somebody who would force their safeties to respect the deep pass and back off the line. Where could the Steelers find somebody like that?
I really liked Rainny in the return game and on offense. I think he'll be a nice weapon.
Despite trying to watch DeCastro, he didn't really stand out to me. For an offensive lineman, that's fine -- I'll take that over Adams, who did stand out for all the wrong reasons. John Malecki showed pretty decent athleticism and mobility. The few times that I saw him, he seemed to be doing good things. Beachum - ugh. Maybe there is something with the number 68 that attracts penalties. It's only one game, but it was an awful start.
Liked what I saw from McClendon. Powerful and active. I really like Cortez Allen. Not too much to say about the D. They pulled everybody quickly.
Sean Spence is really good in coverage. He had a nice coverage against a WR, and later, again covering a believe a WR, he forced the QB to look elsewhere. I'd like to see Spence improve against the run. He seemed to be easily blocked and taken out of plays. Curtis Brown failed to get his head around on the TD and then again later on a misfire where the WR was open. Ugly. Will Allen has a lot more chippiness than he does coverage ability. Couldn't tell from replay who was responsible for the blown coverage on the long TD. One of the late game LBers, I think Adrian Robinson, flashed some pass rush ability.
Jerrod Johnson looked awful. He is athletic, but that's about it.
I was hoping to see more from Barron Batch. I heard from people on TV that he looked to be tough, but I was hoping to see more. The line did him no favors either. I'm still not the least bit impressed with Clay.
Saw Shawn Suisham strutting around with his hat on backwards in the second half. He's a kicker. And not a particularly good one. SMH.
Butler, unfortunately, did not look impressive.
Hrappman's kickoffs also were not impressive.
The special teams stunk, although the blocking on the returns was ok.
I almost forgot - love the big man rumbling return from Al Woods. Always a crowd pleaser.
If there is ever a game where I can not be upset with the Steelers losing, this was it. The Eagles really wanted to win this for Andy Reid, and the timeouts and use of their real kicker at the end showed that. If this gave him any comfort in a terrible time, I'm fine with a meaningless preseason loss.
Finally, it was great to see football again.