What We Saw: Week 3

Mike Williams is finally the guy we all wanted him to be, and the rest of What We Saw in Week 3

Bengals @ Steelers

Final Score: Bengals 24, Steelers 10 

Writer: Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)


This was tough to watch. Ben Roethlisberger is washed. That is the major takeaway you need for this game. I am sorry to all you amazing Steelers fans, but I’m just reporting the news. Overall, the offense is one-dimensional and needs to start attacking teams vertically. Ben is uncomfortable in the pocket and the miniscule aDOT is unsustainable if they want to win, which starts with better offensive line play. In contrast, the much-maligned Cincinnati offensive line played well, but the Steelers desperately missed T..J. Watt. If the Bengals can get similar production on a weekly basis, the Chase pick is going to be even more painfully obvious how good it was.


Cincinnati Bengals




Joe Burrow: 14/18, 172 yards, 3 TD, INT | 5 carries, 7 yards


The model of efficiency today was Joe Burrow. He only needed 14 completions on 18 attempts to bury the Steelers. Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd were huge for him, churning out big plays whenever they touched the ball. The biggest takeaway from Burrow’s game today was his mobility. He is starting to trust his legs, including a designed run in which he makes a couple nice cuts and then dove to pick up the first down on 2nd and eight in the red zone after an ugly interception. In a divisional road game, Burrow showed he’s just starting to ramp it up again and this offense could be even more dangerous moving forward.



Running Backs


Joe Mixon: 18 carries, 90 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

Samaje Perine: 1 carry, -1 yard | 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards

Chris Evans: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 26 yards


Joe Mixon ran a smooth game and even with the positive game script, he stayed effective on the ground. Even though he was dancing around a lot of pressure, it looked easy. Though he was not involved in the passing game, they only attempted 18 passes and they didn’t need him in the air. He was consistently picking up early yardage and Burrow was never buried in long downs because of it. The rest of the backfield was non-existent. Evans was in for a long 3rd down screen pass but was not ever involved. This backfield is all Mixon all the time and against better offenses, Mixon’s passing game usage will tick up.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Ja’Marr Chase: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 65 yards, 2 TD

Tyler Boyd: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 36 yards, TD

Mike Thomas: 1 target, 1 reception, 19 yards

Auden Tate: 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards

C.J. Uzomah: 1 target


Say it with me nice and loud for all the haters in the back, Ja’Marr Chase is legit and the pick was spot on. The pitch and catch game with Burrow is timed to perfection and Chase has obviously laughed off all the preseason malice he received. His routes are clean in closer to the line, he’s leaving defenders behind him on every play downfield with considerable separation, and his catch radius is right where we would expect it to be. The subtlety in his cuts keeps his top-end speed through the entire route and defenders are losing their hips and getting blown right by.

Tyler Boyd also had a really good day but in a different way. He played physical, turning what should have been a simple catch and run into a big-time touchdown while breaking multiple tackles and getting through three defenders within a five-yard span. It’s almost too bad that Pittsburgh was just flat most of the game, because it would’ve been fun to see what could’ve been for the Bengals offense.



Pittsburgh Steelers




Ben Roethlisberger: 38/58 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 4 Sacks | 1 carry, 5 yards


This was tough. They miss not having Diontae Johnson, but this was extreme. The days of Ben Roethlisberger airing it out and sending out frozen ropes to back endzone corners are over. This offense is built around six-yard crossing patterns and dump-offs to Najee Harris. Every throw felt like it was out of his hand before he even settled his feet, or he would wind up and loft a pass downfield that was inevitably overthrown or just plain missed. The line is proving over and over and over again how inept it is, but they may be more effective without Ben under center for much longer. When you become so one-dimensional that the Bengals defense is all over you, it’s time to rethink the scheme.



Running Backs


Najee Harris: 14 carries, 40 yards | 19 targets, 14 receptions, 102 yards

Derek Watt: 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards


If you want to see what it’s like as the running back for Pittsburgh, just make a video collage of people running into brick walls. There is no room to run and Najee Harris is not capable of thriving in spite of it. The volume he saw in the passing game was aided by the absence of Diontae Johnson as he was the first look every time they tried to get the offense kickstarted. It’s obvious that his upside is capped by their struggles, which is tough because he had a few flashes tonight that let you see what he’s capable of with just a little help. He had back-to-back runs in the late 2nd that highlight my point. He picked up a 10 yard run on 1st down that started with a cut that evaded the unblocked defender off the edge. It got called back for a hold. On the very next play, he broke a tackle a few yards on the line and picked up a 20 yard run for a first down that he capped off with driving through contact. Sadly, that was basically the lone bright spot on the ground.



Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Chase Claypool: 15 targets, 9 receptions, 96 yards

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 4 targets, 3 reception, 25 yards

Pat Freiermuth: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 22 yards, TD

James Washington: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 20 yards

Ray-Ray McCloud: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 33 yards

Cody White: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards

Eric Ebron: 3 targets, 0 receptions


This group was largely ineffective all game. The biggest handicap was not letting Chase Claypool stick to his route tree to back up the secondary. It was clear they said they wanted Diontae Johnson‘s tree run and now it’s evident as to why. Any time Roethlisberger threw it over 5 yards, you could almost hear the grunt to get it there. There were a few drops here and there, but the wideouts pretty much did what was asked of them. Pat Freiermuth, Baby Gronk, has already established himself as the clear TE1 for this team, which is impressive for a rookie TE. He was third in targets to Claypool and Najee, but he also was involved in high pressure situations in the red zone while others were phased out.

James Washington ran some crisp routes but was routinely missed in one-on-one coverage. If they can facilitate a trade, he would be worth the stash in dynasty leagues. I forgot JuJu Smith-Schuster was still on the team. I’m also not sure he ran more than 5 yard drags all game. At least, that’s all I ever saw him do. What this game has shown me is that Claypool is not worth his pick with Ben around and I would move him immediately after this, hoping someone will pay up for his potential. I know I’ll be looking to acquire Diontae Johnson and his 6 yard aDOT anywhere I can.


Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

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