The Pittsburgh Steelers held the Eagles and Mike Vick in check during the preseason opener last week… well at least the first squad did. The Steelers kept Mike Vick to a 3 of 4 for 6 yards and a sack. No points, and as he left the field was seen holding his wrist. The Steelers continued to keep the Eagles and did not allow them to score until midway through the 3rd quarter – pretty much when the third team was out there.
Grant it, it was third and fourth team vs third and fourth team, but we’ll never see that in a regular season game. The intensity on the field was genuine in the first two quarters (unlike something you would see in a Pro Bowl) for a preseason game. It was a fair litmus to see how the offense and defense are beginning to stack up against the competition. Philly isn’t a great offense, but they aren’t bad either. I would say the defense receives an B+ in the first half and a dismal F in the second half. I’m not worried, and I think the defense is on its way up for the start of the season. However, according to Elliot Harrison from NFL.com, the Steelers fell in power rankings after their loss to the Eagles and said that the defense had its hands full this year. He criticized LeBeau, Polamalu, Clark, and Larry Foote as weaknesses in coverage. They seemed to do a fine job on Thursday.
There’s no denying that after last season’s ‘old, slow and done’ to ‘#1′ to ‘Tebow’ed’ defensive performance those men will be under the microscope all season long. LeBeau will need to keep this group focused, and he will need to be flexible in his play calling to make sure offenses can’t adjust and burn the linebackers and safeties in the middle of the field.
As per usual with me, what will scare me the most this season are the ‘trap’ games. And though while the game against Indy is far from one because it’s a preseason contest, it is a bit of a crystal ball as to what games against Kansas City, Oakland, and Washington might be like. Will the defense play up or down to its competition? Andrew Luck had a mighty fine start to his NFL career even though it was against a hapless Rams defense. Regardless, he looked strong in the pocket, scrambled when he needed to, and did the most important thing a rookie QB can do – take care of the football.
The Steelers very well could have their hands full against a QB like Luck. I wish this game came later in the preseason. The team is still coming off of ‘training camp’ practices – more drills than plays. The first teams will leave the field sooner than later. It would be great if this game came in as the third or even fourth game of the preseason. It would give the defense a good long time to work with a team and QB that could be the a surprise this season.
So what are your thoughts about the Steelers defense against the Colts and Andrew Luck this Sunday?