Steelers Report Card vs. the Jaguars

From the Grade Book of a teacher who can’t help but think his students start strong then slack off. Here is the Steelers Report Card for their Juke with Jacksonville. As always, remember that no other grades were consulted prior to this posting.

Ben Roethlisberger started the game on fire, torching the Jaguars for 181 yards in just 11 throws in the first half…. He then proceeded to complete 1 pass out of 5 for 19 yards for the rest of the day. Some of is likely the play calling, but Ben bears the brunt of the responsibility. Grade: C-

Running Back
Give Rashard Mendenhall this. When he’s on, he is on. He was on against the Jaguars, running for 100 yards with just under 12 minutes left in the third quarter. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. Grade: A

Wide Receivers
Like their quarterback, they started out strong and finished with a whimper. Its hard to tell who is more at “fault” for some of the later mis-fires, but while most of the burden appears to fall on Ben, some of those balls could have been caught. Grade: B-

Offensive Line
Another game another offensive line configuration and yes, another in-game injury. But the line played well, opened holes and blocked for Mendenhall and gave Ben good time. With that said, Roethlisberger was sacked on third down in three straight series in the 4th quarter. While those sacks have more to do with Roethlisberger and his receivers, the line does bear some responsibility. Grade: B-

Defensive Line
Maurice Jones-Drew ran well, especially after Chris Hoke went out of the game. But the defensive line got excellent pressure on the quarterback and had plenty of tackles for losses. To quote that old addage from ESPN’s NFL PrimeTime, “They didn’t stop Jones-Drew, but they did contain him.” Grade: B

James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley continue to deliver comeuppance to everyone who questioned them during the first four games. The unit go pressure on the quarterback and did well in run-containment for the most part. Where is Lawrence Timmons? Grade: B

Ike Taylor gave up his first touchdown pass and it wasn’t even close. Jacksonville’s passing numbers didn’t look pretty for most of the day, but a big part of that was that he kept missing open receivers. Troy Polamalu had a big game as always. Where are the turnovers? Grade: B-

Special Teams
This was by far the worst outing for the Steelers special teams in 2011. Pittsburgh got no spark from its return game. The attempted reverse looked clumsy and yielded nothing. Discretion is the better part of valor, and so is knowing when to go for a blocked punt and when not to. The roughing the kicker call gave Jacksonville life, marking yet another failed opportuinty to put them away. Ditto Daniel Sepulveda’s 20 yard punt. And we had anothe missed field goal….
Grade: D

The Steelers started out strong but things went downhill as soon as the coaching staff abandoned the 3 step drops. Dabbling with a return to 7 step drops is fine, but why Bruce Arians and Mike Tomlin insist on sticking with that when it wasn’t working befuddles. Defensively the Steelers played well, but several special teams decisions were head scratchers. Grade: C-

Unsung Hero
Larry Foote left Pittsburgh with a lot of noise in 2009, returned in 2010 to great fanfare, and then has largely been forgotten. Larry Foote might not have made splash plays that his counterparts LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior made, but he was there plugging up the middle and helping the defense contain Maurice Jones-Drew, and for that Larry Foote is Steel Curtain Risings Unsung Hero of the Jacksonville game.

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