The Seattle Seahawks travel to face the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend. It’s been four years since the Seahawks exciting win over the Steelers in Seattle in which they also lost Jimmy Graham for the rest of the season. Lots has changed since then for both sides, soooo....
Q: There’s a lot of focus on the receiver not in Pittsburgh anymore, but the new guy in his place for the Steelers got off to a horrific start. Donte Moncrief had four drops on 10 targets with seven yards on three catches. One of the worst games by a receiver I’ve ever heard of, but Ben Roethlisberger says he’ll keep the faith in Moncrief for now. Do you have faith in Moncrief and if not, who does Ben turn to next?
If you listen to Roethlisberger, he of course says he still has faith in Moncrief, but if you listen to the fan base, they do not have any faith in the free agent acquisition. They have already mentally moved on from Moncrief, and are looking to see more snaps from second year receiver James Washington. Washington had a tremendous preseason, and many fans are wondering why the team hasn’t given him a chance to run opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster as the WR2 on the depth chart. I expect to see more Washington, and even more rookie Diontae Johnson this Sunday at Heinz Field,
Q: The Seahawks focused so much of their offseason on fixing the run defense, while the Steelers returned James Conner after a productive season as a dual threat. That wasn’t so much the case in Week 1, as Conner had just 21 yards on 10 carries. Where does most of the fault lie for that lack of run game production -- obviously the Steelers were 32nd in attempts in 2018, and the Patriots won by 30 points, but beyond that -- especially early in the game when it was so close? Is it on the offensive line, the game plan, New England’s defense, Conner, and do you expect it to improve or is this just the way that it is for Mike Tomlin? Do they want more out of it?
The New England debacle was just that, a debacle, and it was from top to bottom. The offensive line played poorly, the play calling was questionable at best and Conner himself didn’t have a good game reading the holes and running decisively. The Steelers will likely make it a point to get the run game going early and often against Seattle in Week 2, and this in no way an indictment of the Seahawks’ run defense, I think the Steelers just want to make a point offensively.
Q: The offense may bounce back because historically for Pittsburgh it has, but doubts about the defense were not answered in Week 1. Is Tomlin making any changes yet or are they going to let it ride?
The Steelers were without their starting safety Sean Davis in Week 1, and rookie Kam Kelly was abused by Tom Brady on multiple occasions. The Steelers are rather young still on defense, with players like Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds, Javon Hargrave, Davis and T.J. Watt all still on their rookie contracts. I think this defense will be better when Davis returns, which looks good for this week, but will still be a work in progress. The defense in the second half of the season could be completely different than the defense in the first half, so the Seahawks might be catching Pittsburgh at the right time.
Q: There are 3 players on the defense I’d be curious to hear quick progress reports on: Artie Burns, Tremaine Edmunds, and Devin Bush. At the respective stages of their careers, how many of those guys are “good” starters right now?
Artie Burns: After a disastrous 2018 season, he worked his tail off to get back in the good graces of the coaching staff. He did that, and is considered the CB3 on the depth chart. The team passed up his 5th year option, so he is set to become a UFA as of the 2020 season.
Terrell Edmunds: Edmunds is due for a breakout season after playing almost the entire rookie season at safety. That wasn’t the plan, but Morgan Burnett couldn’t stay healthy and Edmunds was forced into duty earlier than the Steelers hoped. He responded, and improved as the year went on. With Davis int he lineup Edmunds should be able to fly around the field as many hoped they’d see when the team took him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Devin Bush: The young linebacker is still getting acclimated to the NFL, but you can see just how good this guy is going to be one day. His instincts and athleticism jump off the screen. The Steelers don’t trade up often in the draft, but when they do it is for a sure thing. That is exactly what Devin Bush looks like -- a sure thing.
Q: I know a couple Steelers fans out here and they commented that Ben looks different this year. Bigger, slower, older. Are you feeling concerned about the amount of longevity Ben really has at this point or is it an overreaction?
I am not concerned about Ben Roethlisberger, at this point. His game has changed dramatically the last 5 years, and he has become much more of a pocket passer than the escape artist he once was. If the offensive line can continue to protect him, he still has the arm strength to get the job done.
Bonus: Have you heard of Michael Dickson?
I have not heard of this gentleman before.