In the Trenches: Pittsburgh Steelers Review / Cincinnati Bengals Preview

Just like that, the perfect season is over. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just one game, and there can be positives even out of a loss. The Titans could have easily thrown in the towel last week against Pittsburgh. 

After a near-perfect, everything-going-right-for-the-Steelers first quarter, not many would have blamed them. Maybe. But once again, this is not the Titans of years past. They have proven time and time again this season that they are willing to fight through adversity.

The second half was a different story, with Tennessee allowing only three additional points to the Steelers and clawing almost all the way back to even. A missed field goal in the closing moments cost the Titans after a series of game-winning field goals had been saviors all season long.

Offensive Line Review

The offense did not give us much in the first half to analyze. They found success when they were not shooting themselves in the foot or starting behind schedule. I still can’t help but think that this offense is a threat to score on every drive. And in some cases, every play. There were positives to be taken from this game, mainly the surprise that Ty Sambrailo’s performance was better than anticipated. There are always lessons to be learned in losses though, so let’s take a look at the notes and see how the individuals performed.

Individual Notes:

  • Dennis Kelly – What has happened to my boy? One explanation may be that he drew a really tough matchup with stud edge rusher T.J. Watt. Watt was consistently able to utilize an “under” move to throw Kelly off in both pass protection and run blocking assignments. Starting to see a trend of Kelly being beaten on inside moves, hopefully this can be cleaned up sooner rather than later. The Titans schemed a lot of chip help in this one for Kelly, and Watt was still able to get pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But Kelly was able to keep Watt out of some plays one-on-one. Tough day for Kelly, but it is the technique that I hope he learns from.
  • Nate Davis  – All those saying Nate Davis was “struggling too much” and a bust of an offensive lineman need to line up and apologize. Davis continues to play well as he develops into a very solid all-around NFL guard. There were some mistakes as he did allow pressure on Tannehill, but overall it was a good performance.
  • Ben Jones – After weeks of bragging on the new Ben Jones and how he is not getting pushed back, Jones took a bit of a step back this week — literally. Overall, not a bad day, but I noticed some bad habits creeping in on a few plays.
  • Rodger Saffold – Was a brute today, some nice pickups in pass pro, and he was a bully. My only complaint was on the A.J. Brown 73-yard touchdown, he threw his man into the back of Kelly’s legs and I honestly thought Kelly would not get up. Scary to say the least. Saffold is solid. Still over aggressive at times, but he more than gets the job done for this offense.
  • Ty Sambrailo – I was more worried about Sambrailo coming into this game than I was Kelly. Maybe I should have reversed my thinking. Sambrailo was very dependable in this game. He did get help on some drop backs through the art of the chip, a back or TE slowing down a rusher allowing a tackle the chance to set up and delay the rush attack. Sambrailo was impressive in the run game. He was not a glaring hole that some might have worried about.

Whiteboard Reviews:

Inside Zone Run (14-yard gain)
  • Sambrailo and Saffold work frontside one-on-one with their blocking assignments
  • Nate Davis and Ben Jones work “middle” stack to backside, whichever is in path after motion
    • Davis does an excellent job of forcing the nose tackle over to Jones and looks for linebacker responsibility
  • Kelly and Swaim work backside stack to linebacker or safety, whoever is in path
    • Kelly loses his feet, making this hole tighter than needed
    • Henry might have a cleaner shot on the second level for an even larger gain if Kelly stays upright
  • Nice play design here as the WR motion not only shifts linebackers over but also delays Watt enough to sneak Henry underneath
Power Run (with Saffold pulling)
  • Boy, do I love me a good pull play

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    Author: Ryan WatsonThe resident Old Dude who's found a way to still be involved with football after years as a college and high school football coach. An O-line truther who cut his teeth coaching wide receivers. A Titans fan since he started paying attention to football again after coaching, roughly 2008. The other half of the greatest podcast you've never heard of (the numbers were very telling) Taking It To The House Sports. Currently involved in multiple podcasts on Broadway Sports Network talking shop on Coaches Corner and trying to guide fantasy football decisions on The Flex.


    1. Agree agree agree.

      I’m sure Joe Burrows is mindful that his health could be in serious jeopardy this week. But that’s also just his normal this year. As such, I imagine this week, he’s probably licking his chops as he watches film on the Titans’ depletes CB group and struggling ILB group. As a serious QB talent, I think there’s a chance he has a banner day while we survive (or not) once again on turnover differential and offensive firepower.

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