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MORSE: Patriots Week 2 Preview – Pittsburgh Steelers, Morse’s Morsels

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
September 15, 2022 at 12:00 pm ET

MORSE: Patriots Week 2 Preview – Pittsburgh Steelers, Morse’s Morsels(PHOTO: Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Sep 15, 2022 12:00
🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

This week’s opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers.  We haven’t played them in three years after being perennial opponents when both teams were making the playoffs.  The game is being played in Pittsburgh and that may be the deciding factor on who wins this game.

Pittsburgh will be starting journeyman QB Mitch Trubinsky.  They are hoping he can manage the game as he did in Cincinnati, coming off the overtime 23-20 upset.  Trubinsky put up pedestrian numbers; 21 of 38 passing, 55.3 Completion %, 194 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, and 1 sack.  Najee Harris was held to 25 yards and hurt his foot.  Chase Claypool was the leading rusher with 36 yards on 6 carries.  They ran for 75 yards total, nothing to write home about.

Offense

3WR 1TE

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
QB Mitch Trubisky Kenny Pickett Mason Rudolph
RB Najee Harris   Q Jaylen Warren Benny Snell Jr Jeremy McNichols  IR
WR Diontae Johnson Gunner Olszewski Calvin Austin  III  IR
WR Chase Claypool Miles Boykin Anthony Miller  IR
WR George Pickens Steven Sims
TE Pat Freiermuth Zach Gentry Connor Heyward
FB Derek Watt
LT Dan Moore Jr Trent Scott
LG Kevin Dotson Kendrick Green
C Mason Cole  Q J.C. Hassenauer Kendrick Green
RG James Daniels
RT Chukwuma Okorafor Jesse Davis

Warren Sharp writes that the Steelers’ Offensive Line is one of the worst in the league, despite 4 of 5 linemen returning.  2021 was very bad for the line.  They ranked 31st in pass blocking and 30th in run blocking.  James Daniels, a former 2nd round pick of Chicago replaces Trai Turner at RG.  Center Mason Cole was limited in practice on Wednesday.  The Steelers have the cheapest O Line in the league, as well as the least expensive Offense overall.

Harris only gained 0.93 yards before 1st contact, the worst in the league.  To make matters worse, this was against normal fronts.  Pittsburgh only faces 7+ man fronts 55.2% of the time.  Again the least in the league.

Pittsburgh was in a lot of close games last year and came out as winners.  They were 4-0-1 in games decided by 3 or less and 8-2-1 in games decided by one score.  They are not going to be that lucky this year.

Defense

Base 3-4

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
LDE Larry Ogunjobi Chris Wormley
NT Tyson Alualu Montravius Adams
RDE Cameron Heyward Isaiah Loudermilk DeMarvin Leal
WLB T.J. Watt  O Malik Reed
LILB Devin Bush Robert Spillane  
RILB Myles Jack Mark Robinson Marcus Allen
SLB Alex Highsmith Jamir Jones
LCB Ahkello Witherspoon Arthur Maulet James Pierre Karl Joseph IR
SS Terrell Edmunds Miles Killebrew Damontae Kazee IR
FS Minkah Fitzpatrick Tre Norwood Carlins Platel IR
RCB Cameron Sutton Levi  Wallace Q

 

In 2004, Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie year, the Steelers had the number one Defense and that took them to a 15-1 record.  The Steelers are going to need a stout Defense again this year.  However, that is not going to be enough.

You have to hand it to the Pittsburgh secondary as they came away with 4 Interceptions last week in the Overtime upset of Joe Burrows and the Bengals.  The combination of Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin and Brian Flores is a dynamic duo that’s hard to beat.  Austin prefers the 2 deep split safeties and Flores likes the man coverage.

Last week they played Cover 2 on 23 snaps and Cover 1 on 17 snaps of 50% of the Bengals’ passes.  Flores knows the Patriots and beat them twice last year as the Miami coach.  You cannot deny the Flores factor.  The Patriots catch a huge break as TJ Watt will miss the game with a torn pectoral muscle.

Cam Heyward is a beast even at age 33.  He plays the run extremely well and doesn’t let running backs get around his end.  Heyward had one of the 7 sacks.  Alex Highsmith LB was the destructive force with 3 sacks.  Watt had one, LB Robert Spillane, and CB Arthur Maulet the last one.

Minkah Fitzpatrick had a pick-six, Watt had an INT, as did CBs Cameron Sutton and Ahkello Witherspoon.

The Pittsburgh Defense is the most expensive unit in the league!

Former Patriot Montravious Adams is a backup for the Steelers’ D-line.

Special Teams

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
PK Chris Boswell
P Pressley Harvin III
H Pressley Harvin III
PR Gunner Olszewski Steven Sims
KR Gunner Olszewski Steven Sims
LS Christian Kuntz

 

Old friend Gunner Olszewski had a 20-yard Punt Return last week and is one of the top 5 Punt Returners in the league.  Boswell is as consistent as they get, especially kicking in the swirling winds of Acrisure Stadium (formerly Heinz Field).  The naming rights were changed this year.

Mike Tomlin

I couldn’t write an article about the Steelers without mentioning Mike Tomlin.  Love him or hate him, you have to hand it to him because he is a winner.  Year in and year out the Steelers are prepared and competitive.   According to Warren Sharp, “Mike Tomlin continues to get the most out of his team year after year. Despite the quarterback inabilities the Steelers made the playoffs and continued Tomlin’s streak of 15 consecutive seasons without a losing record. The Steelers also added Brian Flores to the defensive coaching staff. Tomlin appears to be a coach that players respect and play hard for and that should continue in 2022.”

Injury Report

This is from the Wednesday 1st report of the week.

Patriots

Bentley                Toe                         DNP

Bledsoe                Groin                     Limited

Phillips                  Ribs                      Limited

Strong                   Shoulder              Limited

Wade                    Ankle                    Limited

Jones                    Back                       Full Participation

Steelers

Watt                      Pectoral               Out

Cole                       Ankle                   Limited

Harris                    Foot                      Limited

Wallace                 Ankle                    Limited

 

Transactions

Ty Montgomery                Short Term IR (4 weeks)

Lil’Jordan Humphrey         Promoted to 53-man roster

Marcus Cannon                 Signed to Practice Squad

 

Watch the Pierre Strong injury as the week goes on.  If he can’t go, it might be an opportunity for JJ Taylor to get a call-up as one of the two designated players.

Morse’s Morsels

I noticed that Carlins Platel was on the Steelers IR list.  The local Everett HS product played three seasons at D II Assumption University in Worcester.  Because COVID wiped out his Senior season in 2020, he was given an extra year of eligibility and transferred to South Carolina for a year as a Grad Student.  He made 21 tackles as their nickel back.  A UDFA, he was hurt late in the final Pre-season game.  Waived at the final cutdown with an injury designation, he passed through waivers and was put on IR.  Unless he comes up with an injury settlement, he will remain on IR all year.  He is noticeably bigger than when he played at Assumption.  He is 6’1 and 205 lbs with solid muscular frame.

Pro Football Focus does a weekly rating of the Offensive lines in the NFL and had the Patriots line as #7 coming into the season.  Believe it or not, they moved them up a notch to number 6 with a 66.7 rating.  They had particular praise for Cole Strange.  His pass blocking grade as 4th amongst all guards in the league. Strange was criticized as a reach at the draft, but by those numbers, it appears the Patriots and their scouting staff did the right thing.  Also, Strange was not benched during the game, that was a planned substitution to try and keep the rookie fresh.  Yodny Cajuste spelled Isaiah Wynn for a series.  Michael Onwenu’s grade was 68.9, Wynn’s 72.4, Brown 65.7 (33rd by OT), and David Andrews had a rough game with just a 55.9 (20th) rating.

Bottom line is this will be a low-scoring, close game.  The Home Field advantage, with all those Terrible Towers, could be the deciding factor in this game.  Either team can win.  Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes will win the game.

READ NEXT:
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About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.


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