The Pittsburgh Steelers preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers was, in essence, a chance for undrafted and free-agent signees to make their final case for a spot on the roster. As expected, the outcome was as ugly as it could be. Even with this, there are plenty of things one can take away from this porous display by the Steelers in this game.
Haskins Ruined His Opportunity
Overall, Dwayne Haskins had a strong showing in training camp and in his first three preseason games. This evening's game was his opportunity to perhaps change the minds of the Steelers brass and steal the backup quarterback spot. Instead, he only solidified Mason Rudolph's spot as the backup with his poor showing against the Carolina Panthers. In addition to his inability to push the ball down the field, his decision-making skills were questionable, due to his inability to make proper reads. In one of the sequences in the second quarter, he completed a beautiful pass; on the next series, he fumbled the snap and took an unnecessary sack.
To put his performance into perspective, Haskins, at one point, had a quarterback rating of 2.8, while averaging a mere 2.7 yards per pass attempt, holding true to the nickname "check down" given to him by head coach Mike Tomlin. Haskins would eventually finish with nine completions for 112 passing yards and one touchdown. Even with this, he Haskins has a long way to go if he ever wants to become a franchise quarterback, let alone a backup.
Steelers Have Excellent Depth At Defensive line.
Without question, the Steelers defensive line was the most productive unit in this game. On various occasions, linemen such as Isaiah Buggs and Henry Mondeaux were accumulating quarterback pressures. In Chris Wormley's case, he accounted for multiple pressures and was very effective, though it did not reflect on the stat sheet. Rookie Isaiahh Loudermilk was one of the few bright spots in the game, as he registered a sack in the fourth quarter. The Steelers brass are going to have a difficult time deciding which defensive linemen to keep or release, as each one of them has proven worthy of a roster spot.
Jamir Jones Is The Real Deal
During this preseason, linebacker Jamir Jones averaged at least half a sack and two quarterback hits in each game he played. This game was no exception, as he accounted for a sack and several pressures on Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold. Jamir has proven this offseason that he is capable of playing in the NFL—the question is, in what capacity? What can be said is that if he is part of the next wave of cuts, one should not be surprised if he is
quickly taken by another team.
Chuks Okorafor Is Not Starter Material
There is a notable trend happening with fourth-year tackle Chukwuma Okorafor; a trend that involves allowing too many quarterback pressure. In the Steelers preseason contest against the Detroit Lions the previous week, Okorafor allowed five quarterback pressures on 29 pass-blocking snaps, more than all the offensive linemen on the team combined. In this game, Okorafor struggled mightily with gifted pass rusher Brian Burns. His body of work this preseason suggests that he is not fit to become the starting tackle. What will likely keep him a starter is the fact that rookie Dan Moore Jr. is not ready to take on that role.