Week 4 Steelers Postgame Report: Three Biggest Takeaways From Their Loss To The Jets
In a heartbreaker at Acrisure Stadium, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the New York Jets by a
score of 24-21.
To say the least, a 1-3 record was likely not what coach Mike Tomlin and his Steelers had envisioned early in the season. This particular game, however, was different than the others, as fans got to see rookie Kenny Pickett play in his first NFL snaps.
Despite the result, fans should be encouraged by Pickett's efforts in this game; perhaps a sign of hope for a team that is in desperate need of turning their season around.
1. It is Kenny Pickett's Team Going Forward
For anyone who watched the game, what you saw in the second half was a tale of two different offensive units. In the first half under Mitch Trubisky, it seemed disorganized and somewhat lifeless. When rookie Kenny Pickett came in, the offense was immediately infused with energy that had eluded them in the first three weeks. Perhaps the biggest difference between Pickett and Trubisky is confidence. Even with the many mistakes he made, Pickett is clearly the type of quarterback willing to take the chances necessary to push the ball downfield.
It is not a coincidence that rookie George Pickens finished with over 100 receiving yards, and tight end Pat Freiermuth had arguably the best output of his career so far. Yes, there should be questions about who should be the team's new QB1 going forward. The idea that Trubisky is better suited as a backup than a starter is not a farfetched one anymore.
2. The Defense Has Serious Issues
If there are any positives, the defensive line did a much better job of generating quarterback pressures, in contrast to their Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns. In terms of turnovers, they produced two interceptions and a sack, which is much more promising than what we have seen in the last two games. Yet, what became apparent during the course of the game was how vulnerable they were in the middle of the field. What is even more confusing is the fact that very few adjustments were made to correct them during the course of the game. Their rush defense improved exponentially with Montravius Adams starting in place of veteran Tyson Alualu.
Despite the amount of money the organization has invested in this unit, the sad reality is that they are an average unit without TJ Watt. Putting aside the team's overall record without him (0-7), it is becoming clear that they are at a deficit in depth at both the defensive line and secondary. What is also becoming a common theme is how they wilt during the latter stages of the game, specifically on the Jets' last offensive drive, which won them the game. Whether it's coaching or personnel, this defense is going to have to make some serious changes if they hope to be successful this season.
3. Gunner Olszewski May Not Be The Answer On Special Teams
Coming into this game, Gunner Olszewski had yet to break through with some semblance of a big play on special teams. Against the Jets, Olszewski may have exposed himself as a special teams' liability, as he fumbled a punt returned (recovered by cornerback James Pierre) in the third quarter. His longest punt return in this game was 10 yards. Aside from that, he was virtually a non-factor in helping the Steelers gain ideal field position. As it stands, the Steelers have a player on their roster who proved to be more effective during the preseason than receiver Steven Sims. After four weeks of subpar performances, they should consider supplanting Sims as their returner.