Ouch in a couple different ways. Injuries for one, the 1st team play for another. Looks like exactly what we did not want to see for our first impression of the '12 Birds. I'm starting to get a nauseous feeling that the wide 9 just leaves the LBs too exposed to getting blocked by lineman who slip right through our D-line, and that every other run this year feels like it could go for 5+ yards. I'm not throwing in the towel on it yet, just worried is all. Especially against a bruising team like the Steelers that still can run the ball in a pass first league.
An observation from the Steeler TD play when Nnamdi looked confused. There apparently was some miscommunication. I'm not an expert but that looked like a zone coverage to me. I guess Juan decided he's not going to play to player's strengths at the goal line. That ticks me off, and I'd like to see them play up on the line and make the WR get around them, make the QB make a tough touch pass for a fade or back of endzone throw. If these corners are supposed to be good at man press the WR shouldn't get an easy break if we play man/press.
On passing plays, the D-line looked good. Some players stood out. Hunt made a couple huge plays, going to be on the team for sure if he continues that. Landri looked good. So did Graham. I didn't see Cox all game, maybe I missed something. I'm sure he was playing but he never caught my eye.
As for the rest of the D, I'm going to avoid talking about the bad as much as I can. Only a couple players stood out. I saw Joselio Hanson make some nice plays, and one of the only solid tackles to force a 4th down(which was converted). I thought Kurt Coleman had a decent game. He was there to bail out the front lines anytime the Pitt RBs got through the DL and LB, which was often. Going to be a rough season if he is tackling RBs too often.
Damaris Johnson. He is the mini-me of D-Jax. Fast, shifty. I'm kinda glad he protected himself on that one throw, even though he should've caught that ball. He looks like he'd break in half if someone put a half decent shot on him. Looks like he is aware of that. He is a playmaker though. Looks great in the punt return game. Looks good for him to make the team considering the coaches had him as the first sub for outside WR. I still think it will be Cooper once he is healthy though.
Dion lewis looked very good. He found some holes and was making guys miss. He looked like he was making moves but still moving north-south which is a good thing. Bryce Brown looked good. I didn't see him in a blocking role. Maybe they intentionally didn't call plays for him to block b/c he's not ready yet. Every pass play i saw him in he was running a pattern. I didn't see much of Polk, only a couple plays where he ran right into the line for a 1-2 yd gain, but I wasn't watching too much in late 3rd-4th Q. Please comment if you saw something.
Now for the really good/really bad position last night: QB. The biggest concern from last night, Vick. Not just the injury. He looked bad. The offense looked incapable with him running it. I thought the O-line looked fine, gave him plenty of time. Dan Graziano from ESPN pointed out a play where it looked like he misread a defense, when they faked blitz and went into coverage, and looked totally confused. It has been said that is the biggest area where he needs to improve. That they even took some of the responsibilty from him and gave it to Kelce so he could concentrate on reading the D. He failed the first test. Kafka looked almost as bad. The offense seemed to run a little smoother with him, until he made that bonehead throw. Looked like Dennis Kelly got lost a bit and his man came right in on Kafka forcing him to make a quick decision. It was the wrong one. At least Foles gave us a show to watch. His arm looks great. He looks accurate and poised. His deep balls were money. He showed ability to escape the pocket and throw on the run. I thought his best throw was an incompletion actually, although the two TD passes were brilliant. This was the throw to Elvis Akpla running a deep sideline route. Foles threw a beautiful spiral lob pass. Looked like the ball was hanging int he air forever, and if Akpla tunred to the sideline he would've caught, it would've fell right in his hands. Foles put it where the defender didn't have a chance at the ball. The ball landed about 1/2 yd out of bounds. It really was a perfect throw with a very high difficulty level. Granted all of this was against the 3rd-4th stringers. Let's not get too excited. I heard either Ray Didinger or Merrell Reese say on radio the other day they thought Foles could be #2 on the depth chart by the end of the season from what they had seen in camp. Those guys know what they are talking about.
Let's hope we see some improvement next week and that these injuries are minor! Go Birds!