By Jeremy Hritz
Happy Sunday all! I hope everyone has an amazing weekend, and that you are all geared up for what promises to be a monumentally important game for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Tennessee Titans. As you get your weekend started and anticipation builds for today’s contest, here are my Steelers Study Notes to get you prepped and ready to go!
- Fans were clamoring fervently last season to retain outside linebacker Bud Dupree to be paired alongside TJ Watt, but that never materialized, as Dupree went on to sign with the Titans. The Titans were expecting to get a high-quality pass rusher who could recreate the success he had in Pittsburgh, but that has yet to happen. Dupree has been injured quite often in Tennessee, and his stat line shows only 7 tackles and 1 sack. It appears as if he will return for tomorrow’s game against the Steelers, and let’s hope he wasn’t saving his breakout performance for this showdown against his former team.
- For comparative purposes, Dupree’s replacement, Alex Highsmith, has recorded 54 tackles and 3 sacks in his second season. In Dupree’s second year as a Steeler, he produced 24 tackles and 4.5 sacks. I’m not saying, but I’m just saying.
- If the Steelers lose to the Titans, their playoff hopes are significantly dashed, as they would need to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead, which doesn’t seem likely, followed by two more wins against the Browns and Ravens. The Titans game is a must win and provides for a margin of error against the Chiefs in order to win the AFC North.
- I’m completely comfortable admitting when I am incorrect and wrong, and I have been overly critical of Ben Roethlisberger this season. While his mobility is tremendously limited, he has more than shown he has the arm and accuracy to still be an above average NFL quarterback. The biggest issue is with the offensive line, and if the Steelers can dramatically improve it through free agency and the draft, Roethlisberger can lead this team to the postseason. I have changed course, and now believe that the best move forward is to bring Ben back and bolster the offensive line. This eliminates the need to pursue a QB in free agency, and allows the Steelers to draft a young guy to develop under Roethlisberger next year. Mason Rudolph is not the answer, and hopefully Ben considers returning in 2022.
- Chase Claypool took to Instagram on Saturday to make amends for his immaturity from in the game against the Vikings. Claypool wrote, “With adversity comes great opportunity. I will learn from my shortcomings and work my ass off for this team.” Let’s hope he is uber-motivated today and puts together a massive game against the Titans.
- I always talk about the concept and importance of players elevating their game and stepping up in big moments, and that is definitely needed today. While it should be expected from the likes of Watt, Roethlisberger, and Cameron Heyward, which under-the-radar Steelers emerges today to make the plays this team needs for a win? How about Robert Spillane who will see extended time because of the poor play of both Devin Bush and Joe Schobert? Spillane had a big game last year vs. the Titans, and just maybe, they bring out the best in him. We will find out later today.
That is all for today’s Study Notes! Enjoy the game!