Steelers Study Notes, 9/27/21: Najee is Now the Offense, It’s Above the Neck for Ben, Not Physical Ability, and Tyler Boyd Gives the Ultimate Diss

By Jeremy Hritz

Another tough Sunday means another tough Monday for Steelers fans everywhere. But take solace in knowing there are still 14 games left to be played, and opportunities for the team to turn this thing around. While there isn’t much to be optimistic about regarding the flop against the Bengals, it’s important to take an objective look at where this 2021 Steelers team currently is, and where the path forward to success exists. Check out my analysis in today’s Steelers Study Notes:

  • Najee Harris is now the focal point of this offense, and Matt Canada now must build the game plan around his strengths. It’s no longer. Ben Roethlisberger, and it’s not the receivers, and both in the running and passing attack it has to begin and end with Harris. Harris has improved with each game and has been the team’s lone bright spot. 
  • Is it too early to pass judgment on this offensive line? Surely, we can evaluate and critique their individual game performances, but it is still a small sample size to condemn this unit as being ineffective. If they continue to string together more substandard performances together, then the argument becomes more valid; however, we should still give them the benefit of the doubt. 
  • I’m not going to throw dirt on Roethlisberger just yet, but the poor play I am observing from him isn’t a result of physical limitations, rather processing, reads, and decision-making errors. The tools are there, and yes his mobility isn’t what it used to be, but, I’m not sure what Ben is seeing and where his tentative approach is coming from. He looks like he lacks confidence, and some of that can be put on the offensive line, but explain to me that 2nd pick? 
  • What would this offense look like with Mason Rudolph at the helm? I’m not advocating for this, but I wonder if Rudolph would be able to play within the Canada system and be more efficient. If the line doesn’t protect better for Roethlisberger, this could become a sad and unfortunate reality.
  • The Steelers lead the NFL with 12 drops. That is not good, and a continuation of the poor focus in the receiving game from 2020. Yesterday against the Bengals, they had 10 drops. 0 of those drops this year are by receiver Diontae Johnson.
  • Tyler Boyd, Bengals receiver and Pittsburgh native absolutely blasted the Steelers when interviewed about the game. He said, “For a team [Steelers]  to just lay down like that before the game was over….They portrayed to the whole nation, on TV, what they were about and how they gave up.” Wow. That shouldn’t sit well with the players and anyone within this organization. 
  • The Steelers have to get healthy this week against Green Bay. TJ Watt, Alex Highsmith, Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Stephon Tuitt, Zach Banner and on and on, insert name here, have to get healthy, at least some of them, so they can be competitive on Sunday. Injuries have just been a killer. 
  • Don’t close the door on this season just yet. Sure, it’s the most logical thing to do after such a loss, but there is plenty of time to rectify things, and this is a proud organization. It may not be pretty, in fact its pretty ugly, but there are several opportunities for redemption ahead. 

That is all for today! Make it a great Monday!


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