The week five Pittsburgh Steelers positional grades weren’t that bad except for Ben Roethlisberger, as the Steelers were surprisingly blown out by the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 30-9. The Steelers as a whole played fairly well, but Roethlisberger threw five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Perhaps Roethlisberger is finally starting to show signs of declining.
Week Five Pittsburgh Steelers Positional Grades
Ben Roethlisberger had a horrible game to put it bluntly. As previously mentioned, he threw five interceptions, and four of them were his fault. Roethlisberger’s first interception was a great defensive play by Jalen Ramsey, but his second one was thrown low and tipped, resulting in an interception by Telvin Smith that was returned for a touchdown.
Then, just two plays later, Roethlisberger targeted Antonio Brown, who was triple-covered, and threw another interception that was returned for a touchdown. Roethlisberger’s fourth interception may have been his worst, as he overthrew JuJu Smith-Schuster and was easily picked off. Smith-Schuster fell down on his route and Roethlisberger still threw the ball. Finally, Roethlisberger threw his fifth interception on a deep throw into triple coverage as the Steelers were attempting to come back late in the fourth quarter.
Roethlisberger finished with 33 completions on 55 attempts for 312 yards and a quarterback rating of only 22.2. Roethlisberger’s rating has been consistently low this season and currently he is the biggest question mark surrounding the Steelers offense. The only reason Roethlisberger wasn’t given an “F” for his performance is because Todd Haley’s play-calling in the second half was poor. Haley abandoned the running game even though Le’Veon Bell had been playing well. At the same time though, Roethlisberger has the authority to audible out of any call that Haley makes.
Running Backs: B-
Le’Veon Bell finished with just 47 yards on 15 carries and had ten receptions for 46 yards. James Conner contributed three carries for nine yards.
Haley seems to be using Bell as more of a slot receiver than a running back. Roethlisberger threw a lot of short passes to Bell, which are basically just elongated hand-offs. It’ll be interesting to see if the Steelers offense gets back to more snaps from under center as opposed to shotgun, and more carries for Bell instead of using him as a wide receiver.
Wide Receivers: B
Antonio Brown led the way once again with ten catches on 19 targets for 157 yards. Smith-Schuster out-snapped Martavis Bryant for the second straight week and finished with four catches on six targets for 58 yards. Bryant finished with five catches on eight targets for 21 yards. Justin Hunter caught one pass for six yards.
Roethlisberger seemed to be focusing on Brown a little too much in this game, which could be due to Brown’s sideline outburst last week against the Baltimore Ravens or perhaps Roethlisberger’s lack of confidence forced him to depend on Brown to carry the offense. Either way, the Steelers need to get their other offensive weapons involved more.
Tight Ends: C+
Jesse James and Vance McDonald were very quiet in this game. James caught three of his five targets for 24 yards and McDonald was held without a catch. McDonald was targeted on Roethlisberger’s first interception. He is still without a reception as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Offensive Linemen: B-
The offensive line played about as well as one would expect them too. They surrendered two sacks, but for the most part were successful in creating running lanes for Bell and giving Roethlisberger time to throw the ball. Hopefully they continue to improve as the season rolls on.
Defensive Linemen: B+
Besides Leonard Fournette‘s 90-yard touchdown run, the Steelers defense held Fournette to just 3.4 yards per carry. Javon Hargrave finally made his presence felt on the stat sheet as well as the field, leading the team with ten tackles.
Ryan Shazier continues to show why he is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. He ripped the ball away from a Jaguars receiver just before he hit the ground and the play was ruled an interception. Shazier finished with eight tackles.
Bud Dupree has looked good in pass-rushing situations, but he has struggled to tackle ball carriers. Dupree needs to do a better job of sealing the edge and preventing opposing runners from getting outside. He only had one tackle.
T.J. Watt continues to impress and is probably in the early running for defensive rookie of the year. Watt finished with six tackles, a sack and two tackles for losses.
Vince Williams also had a sack, but he seems to be struggling to read the opposing offenses. On a few plays, it seemed like Williams was a bit lost or confused, but overall, he had a pretty nice game with eight tackles and a sack.
There isn’t much to talk about here as Bortles only threw the ball 14 times, and only once in the entire second half. The cornerbacks did their jobs though, holding the Jaguars to only 95 yards passing.
Again, there isn’t much to talk about with the safeties, but Mike Mitchell had an outstanding game. Mitchell consistently brought down Fournette on his own throughout the game, which is no easy task. He finished with nine tackles.