What We Saw: Preseason Week 2

Steelers @ Jaguars

Final Score: Steelers 16, Jaguars 15

Writer: Callen Elslager (@callen_elslager on Twitter and Reddit)

 

The best part about preseason Week 2 is that you start to get an even better look at what the first team offenses will look for each team. For the Steelers we got a great glimpse at their new look offense sans Ben Roethlisberger, and what seemed to be some continued improvements for rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, against a team’s first-team defense, while also allowing Mitch Trubisky to continue to develop rapport with his new receiving core. On the other hand for the Jaguars, it was fun to see Travis Etienne back in game action, while seeing some flashes from Trevor Lawrence and also some throws that reminded us that he still is a young quarterback.

Pittsburgh Steelers

| Preseason Week 1 |

 

Quarterback

 

Mitch Trubisky: 5/8, 60 yards | 1 carry, 10 yards

Kenny Pickett: 6/7, 76 yards, 1 TD | 1 carry, -4 yards

Mason Rudolph: 17/21, 127 yards, 1 TD

 

What impressed me most about Mitchell Trubisky on Saturday was his ability to escape the pressure with his legs, while under constant pressure due to leaks in the Pittsburgh offensive line. While he made some plays with his legs, his decision-making needed some improvements as he tried to force a ball downfield while on the run that was almost picked off on the sideline as the Jaguar defender was unable to keep his feet in bounds. Playing for about a quarter and a half, Trubisky got some good reps in and spread the ball among his weapons.

Maybe there is some bias here, but I was very impressed with how Kenny Pickett ran the offense in his limited reps on Saturday. He came in right around the two-minute warning and drove Pittsburgh downfield for the score, moving around in the pocket when needed and also making a very impressive throw downfield to Pat Freiermuth, staying in the pocket and releasing the ball right before taking a hit from the defense. He also had a nice touch pass touchdown to Diontae Johnson taken away by offsetting penalties before finding his running back Benny Snell on an out route the very next play for the score.

 

 

Mason Rudolph took over in the second half and played the remainder of the game, looking impressive against the Jaguars’ reserve defenders with an impressive late-game drive to give the Steelers the lead late.

 

 

Running Back

 

Jaylen Warren: 3 carries, 3 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 24 yards

Anthony McFarland Jr.: 2 carries, 1 yard | 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

Benny Snell Jr.: 3 carries, -2 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards, TD

 

I wish I had more to highlight from this Steeler run game, but the Steeler run blocking was horrific, giving the runners very little space past the line of scrimmage. That was the case for both Jaylen Warren and Benny Snell Jr. who are competing for the Steelers’ backup job. The nice sign was the use of these backs in the passing game, with these players often used to create space down at the goal line, including Benny Snell’s touchdown reception shown here.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Diontae Johnson: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 33 yards

Chase Claypool: 1 target, 1 reception, 29 yards

George Pickens: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 6 yards

Pat Freiermuth: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 35 yards

Tyler Vaughns: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 56 yards

Tyler Snead: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 17 yards, TD

 

Whether this was a concerted effort by the Steeler quarterbacks or a product of the game script presented, there was a pretty even split between their primary pass catchers, with Diontae Johnson still seeming to be the top target for both Trubisky and Pickett. Johnson had a touchdown reception taken away on offsetting penalties on a nice touch pass from Kenny Pickett, and also had a deep ball downfield that was severely underthrown by Mitchell Trubisky that could have padded his stats even more. Chase Claypool made a very impressive turnaround catch on third down on a fade downfield from Trubisky, which shows the potential he has where he will still be a focal point of this Pittsburgh offense. With this being the first game I got to watch this preseason, I was disappointed not to see the highlight reel potential of George Pickens. He still found his way onto the field often in three-wideout sets. It was also nice to see Pat Freiermuth come up with the crucial catch shown above during the two-minute drill to keep the drive moving, potentially adding some more downfield looks to his repertoire this season.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

| HOF Game | Preseason Week 1 |

 

Quarterback

 

Trevor Lawrence: 14/21, 133 yards, Sack | 2 carries, 13 yards

C.J. Beathard: 6/10, 52 yards | 3 carries, 17 yards, TD

E.J. Perry: 6/10, 52 yards

 

Playing for the first half in this matchup, it was a mixed bag for Trevor Lawrence on Saturday. There were some throws that flashed some of the upside we all know he has as last year’s number one overall pick, while others served as a reminder that he still is a young quarterback. There were multiple throws where Lawrence had an open receiver on the outside or downfield where the ball was overthrown or outside the hands of his intended target.

 

 

Both C.J. Beathard and E.J. Perry put together some impressive drives but similarly to Lawrence struggled to execute on third down and keep drives going. The Steelers’ pass rush did a good job putting each quarterback under pressure throughout the game, which may have contributed to some of those off-target throws.

 

 

Running Back

 

Travis Etienne: 8 carries, 29 yards

Snoop Conner: 7 carries, 19 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 10 yards

Ryquell Armstead: 4 carries, 7 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards

Mekhi Sargent: 6 carries, 12 yards | 1 target

 

It was great to see Travis Etienne back on the field showing no wear and tear from his injury last season. While the offensive line struggled for Jacksonville, you could see the burst of speed and power that made Etienne such a highly touted prospect out of college. With no James Robinson, we saw a good look at Snoop Conner getting plenty of opportunities, both on the ground and in the passing game. While he would need an injury to Etienne or Robinson to be fantasy relevant, I might have some intrigue in Conner if one of those backs were to go down with an injury.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Christian Kirk: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 54 yards

Marvin Jones Jr.: 4 targets, 3 receptions 40 yards

Zay Jones: 3 targets, 1 reception, 12 yards

Evan Engram: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

Tim Jones: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 70 yards

Dan Arnold: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards

Laviska Shenault Jr.: 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards, Fumble

 

In his first action as a Jaguar, Trevor Lawrence made a clear effort to get the ball to Christian Kirk, to justify that massive contract he got this offseason. He was the clear target Lawrence was looking to in crucial situations including this third down conversion shown below. The rest of the targets were intermixed between a variety of receivers, including Marvin Jones and Zay Jones both being mixed in downfield and showing off their potential role in this offense. It does appear clear though that the fun we had at one point with Laviska Shenault is over, as he was rarely involved in this offense and is clearly far down the pecking order for this team.

 

 

 

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