What We Saw: Week 8

The What We Saw Team recaps all of the Sunday action from Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season

Jaguars @ Steelers

Final Score: Jaguars: 20, Steelers: 10

Writer: Nick Beaudoin


The rain began to pour as the clock hit 1:00 p.m., setting the tone for some uninspiring football through the first half of this matchup. The Jaguars were clearly the better team – with the Steelers gaining nine yards on their first 12 plays – but they were unable to finish drives, committing costly turnovers and allowing the Steelers defense to keep them in the game. The end of the half proved to be disastrous for the Steelers in an incredible series of unfortunate events, losing 10 seconds on a forward fumble, losing Kenny Pickett to a shoulder injury on the next play (also costing them their last time-out), and then having a successful 55-yard field goal called back on a penalty, only to miss a 61-yard field goal as time ran out.

The game finally opened up midway through the third quarter, as Travis Etienne lined up out wide, beating double coverage over the top for a 56-yard touchdown reception. The Mitch Trubisky-led Steelers immediately responded with an eight-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a highlight-reel 22-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens. The Jaguars were able to convert one more time, as game MVP Brandon McManus hit his fourth field goal of the day (including two 50+ yarders), securing the lead and eventual win. The Jaguars walked away with their fifth-straight win, their best start to a season since 2007.


Three Up:

  • Travis Etienne – Etienne was the best player on the field, and once again proved to be the difference maker with 149 all-purpose yards and one touchdown.
  • Diontae Johnson – Johnson has reclaimed his WR1 status of this team, with eight receptions for 85 yards, with a 33% target share.
  • Trevor Lawrence – Although Trevor Lawrence has been a “letdown” for fantasy managers this season, he has led his team to five straight wins (including two in London). The Jaguars are performing well as a team and are certainly a threat to go deep in the playoffs.

Two Down:

  • Najee Harris – Same story, different day. Najee is the starter on this team, but was once again outperformed by backup Jaylen Warren, and is receiving no help from his offensive line.
  • George Pickens – Although he was able to score the lone Steelers touchdown (on his only catch), he was the clear WR2 today with Diontae Johnson dominating targets


Jacksonville Jaguars




Trevor Lawrence: 24/32, 292 Yards, TD, INT, 3 Sacks | 1 Carry, 10 Yards

Weather certainly played a factor in this one, but despite facing a depleted Steelers secondary (who also lost Minkah Fitzpatrick early in this game), Trevor Lawrence mustered another pedestrian (fantasy) performance today. With that being said, the Jaguars have won five straight, and are doing so as a complete team.

For the majority of the day, Lawrence served as a more-than-capable game manager, making several excellent throws while consistently under pressure – including one to Christian Kirk for 29 yards off his back leg, and another beautiful throw to Calvin Ridley for 27 yards between two defenders. Unfortunately, all these throws were overshadowed by a horrible interception in the end zone, where Lawrence forced the ball into triple coverage for no reason on first and goal from the seven-yard line. Trevor Lawrence has not shown his “generational” talent so far this year, but he is still an exceptional quarterback, and his future is extremely bright.

Missed Opportunities

  • On 1st and goal in the second quarter, Lawrence made a horrible decision, throwing off his back foot into triple coverage, leading to his first INT in five games. Naturally, the defender returned it out of the end zone and stepped out of bounds at the two-yard line.
  • Evan Engram fumbled in the red zone early on, stalling another drive.
  • Lawrence also took a bad sack in field goal range in the fourth quarter. This forced the team to punt, which could have been costly at the time, but did not make a difference in the end.


Running Back


Travis Etienne: 24 Carries, 79 Yards | 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 70 Yards, TD

Travis Etienne did what he does, providing fantasy managers with another RB1 performance. His first half was quiet, often being met behind the line by the Pittsburgh defensive line, however, he made up for it in the second half, making chunk plays in the rushing game, with the highlight of today coming on his 56-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Etienne lined up out wide and was able to beat double-coverage for an easy catch and outrunning the field. Etienne was patient behind his line and displayed excellent vision, waiting for holes to open, and was rarely taken down with first contact. There is a reason he leads the league in touches, and after another lost fumble from Tank Bigsby (on minimal usage), that stat should not be changing anytime soon.


Tank Bigsby: 3 Carries, 9 Yards, FL

Tank Bigsby got his first carry early in the second half, bursting his first run off for a nine-yard gain around the corner. However, just two touches later, he lost a fumble and was relegated to the bench for the remainder of the game. Although fantasy managers had high hopes for a timeshare in this backfield, Bigsby has done nothing to help his case this season and is only giving the Jaguars more reason to feature Etienne, or give D’Ernest Johnson more touches.


D’Ernest Johnson: 2 Carries, 8 Yards


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Calvin Ridley: 10 Targets, 6 Receptions, 83 Yards

After just one catch for five yards last week, it was clear that the Jaguars were making a point to get Calvin Ridley more involved this week. Ridley appeared to be on his way to a big day, including a beautiful pass-and-catch for 26 yards in the first quarter, but almost all of his production came in the first half. With that being said, his 10 targets and final stat line were extremely encouraging for Ridley’s future usage in this offense.

Missed Opportunities

  • Ridley and Lawrence were about unable to connect late in the game, for what could have been another 20-yard gain.


Christian Kirk: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 46 Yards

Despite the Steelers getting massacred by slot WRs this year, the Jaguars curiously drew up a game plan that did not involve Christian Kirk whatsoever, instead featuring Ridley and TE Evan Engram, who often lined up in the slot as well.

Missed Opportunities

  • Kirk dropped a slant on 2nd and 7 late in the second quarter that would have given the Jaguars a first down.


Evan Engram: 10 Targets, 10 Receptions, 88 Yards, FL

Evan Engram was highly involved and clearly part of the Jaguars game plan coming into this matchup. Instead of using their WR1, Christian Kirk, it was Engram who served as Lawrence’s safety valve on almost every third down. In the first half, he was unable to do much with his opportunities, with three straight third down receptions ending short of the first down marker, as well as losing a fumble on a red zone shovel pass at the end of the first quarter – but he came up big in the second half with splash plays to keep the Jaguars’ drives alive. Although Engram is yet to score this year, he remains in TE1 territory each week, averaging 7.6 targets/game.

Missed Opportunities

  • Engram lost a fumble in the red zone in the first quarter.


Luke Farrell: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 5 Yards



Pittsburgh Steelers




Kenny Pickett: 10/16, 73 Yards, Sack | 1 Carry, 10 Yards

As is tradition, Kenny Pickett and the Steelers’ offense opened this game with four straight 4-and-outs, gaining nine yards on their first 12 plays. They entered the week at the bottom of the league, with 45% of their drives ending in 3-and-out, and today’s numbers couldn’t have helped. He came to life in the second quarter, hyper-targeting Diontae Johnson and building momentum on two successful drives. However, with exactly two minutes remaining in the first half, Pickett was taken down (arguably late), landing on his right side, and was forced to exit the game for good with a rib injury. The injury also forced the Steelers to lose their only remaining timeout, and they were unable to convert the field goal. Pickett showed sparks in moments but equally matched those moments with poor reads and inaccurate passes in opportune moments.

Missed Opportunities

  • On the first play of the game, Pickett came out firing, barely overthrowing Diontae Johnson wide open down the middle of the field, for what would have been a 30+ yard gain
  • Not a missed opportunity, but on the second drive, he threw an ill-advised pass to the outside, hitting the defender in the hands but was dropped. This almost certainly would have resulted in a pick-6.
  • He underthrew George Pickens on a 3rd-and-2, who was open on a corner post
  • He missed Diontae Johnson, who was wide open on 3rd-and-goal in the end zone. Johnson ran a slant off a (slight) pick, and stood alone, but by the time Pickett looked his way, it was too late and the ball was thrown behind him.
  • With 2:00 remaining in the first half, Pickett was knocked out of the game with a rib injury.


Mitch Trubisky: 15/27, 138 Yards, TD, 2 INT, 2 Sacks | 3 Carries, 18 Yards

Mitch Trubisky started 0/4, with the Steelers’ offense looking equally hopeless as it had the first four drives. However, just like Pickett, he was able to pick up the pace, going 5/6 and converting a 75-yard touchdown drive, with a 22-yard slant to George Pickens. Trubisky used his legs to extend plays, including one ill-advised pass that somehow worked perfectly, escaping pressure and throwing back across the field to hit Diontae Johnson for a first down. The Steelers were still in the game early in the fourth, when Trubisky (admittedly) forced a pass down the middle of the field, resulting in an INT and eventually cementing the Jaguars win. His second interception came on the last play of the game. The Jaguars’ defense leads the league with 18 forced turnovers, including five straight games after today.

There still appears to be little difference between Pickett and Trubisky, who did his best to keep the Steelers in the game, but ultimately this team has been carried by their defense (3 takeaways today) to their 4-3 record. The offense is not powerful or intimidating, and their lack of running game continues to make it difficult for any QB to succeed.


Running Back


Najee Harris: 7 Carries, 13 Yards | 5 Targets, 5 Receptions, 42 Yards

There isn’t much to say about Najee Harris that hasn’t already been said. He lacks the explosion that he used to have, and is seemingly unable to create yards after contact. His line does him no favors, as he is often being hit behind the line of scrimmage. His day was fortunately (kind 0f) salvaged with five receptions, as the Jaguars went into prevent defense and allowed him to gain dump-offs underneath, but fantasy managers are praying for RB2 returns on a weekly basis at this point.


Jaylen Warren: 5 Carries, 19 Yards | 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 19 Yards

Jaylen Warren continues to be the more elusive and dynamic option in this backfield, but it is also clear that the Steelers do not view him as an every-down back. Warren displayed excellent contact balance on a screen pass in the second quarter, staying on his feet and managing to gain the first down. Warren is not an amazing NFL player, but he does provide a small spark in times when this offense needs it most.

Missed Opportunities

  • The only missed opportunity for Warren would be receiving more touches.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


George Pickens: 5 Targets, 1 Reception, 22 Yards, TD

Although this was truly a day to forget for Pickens, the “human highlight-reel” made the most of his one catch, leaping over the safety to score the Steelers’ only touchdown. Otherwise, he was unable to get open, sliding back into WR2 status with Diontae Johnson’s return.

Missed Opportunities

  • Received just 1 target in the first half
  • In the third quarter, Trubisky hit Pickens for his patented highlight-esque back-shoulder fade, but after review, Pickens’ toe was just slightly out of bounds.


Diontae Johnson: 14 Targets, 8 Receptions, 85 Yards

After the interception in the second quarter, the Steelers offense became the Diontae Johnson show. He took over the drive, beginning (almost) in their own end zone, and would have capped it off with a touchdown reception if Kenny Pickett had been looking in his direction (he should have been). Johnson separates at elite levels, and put that on display today, commanding 14 targets (36%) and gaining 85 yards on eight receptions. He dominated the sidelines, displaying perfect footwork and making impressive plays time and time again. Johnson needed to be helped into the medical tent after the Pickens touchdown but was able to return and finish the game.

Missed Opportunities

  • On the first play of the game, Pickett barely overthrew Johnson down the middle for what should have been an easy 40+ yard reception.
  • In the second quarter, Johnson was wide open in the end zone on 3rd down and goal. Pickett was looking elsewhere, and by the time he looked Johnson’s way, it was far too late and the ball was thrown behind him, giving Johnson no chance to make a play.


Connor Heyward: 6 Targets, 5 Receptions, 24 Yards

Connor Heyward served as the starting TE with Pat Freiermuth on IR, and was able to put up a respectable stat line on the day, finishing third on the team in receiving yards. Hayward served as a safety valve underneath for Pickett/Trubisky, and did very little with the ball in his hands. He can be left on waivers.


Calvin Austin: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 19 Yards | 2 Carries, 10 Yards

The Steelers need dynamics in their offense, and today they used Calvin Austin as their gadget player. They ran a reverse to him early on in the game, which unfortunately led to 0 yards on a very well-read defended play, but he was able to take a jet sweep later on around the corner for 10 yards. He also had one deep target in the second quarter which led to a PI call. Austin is a speedy threat, but his upside is capped on this low-scoring offense.


Allen Robinson: 1 Target

Rodney Williams: 2 Targets


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