The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 2 preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs brought a few things into focus but has left other questions unanswered.
Let’s dive into some of those qusetions…
Who is the No. 2 wide receiver?
James Washington had another monster long reception while Donte Moncrief had a bad fumble. Washington had a big preseason in 2018 and a forgettable regular season and Moncrief was brought in to start or compete for the role. Moncrief has missed a chunk of training camp with a broken ring finger. His absence has allowed Washington to get extra reps with the first team in practice and early playing time in the first preseason game.
Who shines in the next two games to grab the brass ring? Washington has had a good rapport with Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs but they are not the quarterback who will throw passes in the regular season. That man is Ben Roethlisberger, and he is the one Washington struggled to bond with last season.
Rumblings out of training camp have reported Wright has struggled with hitting field goals over 50 yards. No surprise as his collegiate career-long was 50 while converting 77.5 percent of attempts.
Why does Mike Tomlin keep this sham of a kicking competition alive, taking away important opportunities for Chris Boswell to bounce back from his disastrous 2018 season? Would Tomlin rather kick a 53-yard field goal with Wright on a Hail Mary to win against New England in Week 1 of the regular season?
What are the Steelers going to do with the No. 2 TE position?
Xavier Grimble hauled in one of three passes for 13 yards but had a brutal drop. I and other fans have been on his case since the Denver game last year. I just keep going back to thinking how the team will fill those 562 snaps that former tight end Jesse James had last year? While others opine about Jaylen Samuels or Roosevelt Nix playing some tight end, do you really want to see either block out of the position? No? Then Pittsburgh would tip their hand right?
Zach Gentry played well in the first week caught all three targets for a touchdown but can a player with 12 reps on the bench at the combine make holes at the end of the line or pass protect? He is very raw and not even guaranteed of making the final roster.
Is the pressure mounting on general manager Kevin Colbert to go out and secure a true No. 2 tight end? How do the Steelers make cap space to do such a move?
Should Steelers fans should be concerned about the swing tackle position?
YES! Chukwuma Okorafor had another subpar game Saturday night after a two hurry, two penalty game in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While starting at right tackle with regular starting right tackle Matt Feiler playing right tackle, Okorafor surrendered two quarterback pressures and a sack. (According to my charting in the first half.)
Offensive tackle was seen as having tremendous depth heading into training camp but after two games questions about the depth are bubbling to the surface.
Did the quarterback battle solidify?
Well, sorta. Rudolph was 10 of 15 (With two drops) for 77 yards. Twenty-two of those yards came on a solid strike to Washington over the middle. Besides that chunk play, Rudolph rarely challenged the Chiefs’ first couple of defensive strings. One play that bugged me was about midway through the second quarter and Rudolph does a fine job of scrambling out of the pocket just to throw to the end zone for Eli Rogers with a host of Chiefs lurking in the vicinity. The game was a mixed bag for Rudolph as the offense was stagnant even with most of the starters playing the entire first half. One touchdown in six drives is alarming.
Dobbs entered the game with just over a minute left in the first half and promptly tossed a 40-yard pass to Washington. For the second week in a row, Washington got loose and hauled in an under thrown ball from Dobbs. But the drive stalled out. One play after the Chiefs fumbled in their own territory Dobbs had the ball on the Chiefs six-yard line with first and goal with 21 seconds remaining. An errant throw from Dobbs dashed any hopes of securing points to break the tied game.
Dobbs accounted for a field goal on one of his three drives. On that drive, a controversial passing touchdown was called back because of offensive pass interference.
Dobbs finished 6 of 11 (Did not chart drops.) for 95 yards. Effective at times against depth players, the interception is one of those inexcusable plays in a close game knocking on the goal line.
Fans were disappointed (As was I) that Devlin Hodges had limited opportunities after a successful game against Tampa Bay. Hodges went 2 of 4 for 38 yards and a touchdown on his two drives. The touchdown to Dontae Johnson was a 24-yard toss that Johnson made a solid adjustment to snag. (Chiefs fans may complain that it was not a reception, but who knows what a catch is anyway?)
Maybe I was part of the group of Steelers fans who thought Pittsburgh brought in Moncrief to start but I think that is on thin ice. I believe that debate may be shelved until next week when Big Ben shows who he has chemistry with. How much Roethlisberger plays will determine how much the other quarterbacks play. Could, and I say could with a huge question mark, Hodges see playing time over Dobbs? Unfortunately, the backup tight end duties are as worrisome as many suspected but unfortunately, the swing tackle has also cropped up to become unsettling. And none of us wants to see Boswell coming out of the preseason with just two field-goal attempts and a handful of extra-point tires after an atrocious 2018 season.
Will fans have answers to these questions after the Tennessee Titans game next Sunday?
What questions do you have that have not been answered so far in preseason? Please post those questions in the comments section below.
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