2020 Week 1 Analysis: Steelers @ Giants (By Ross Jacobs)
Ross Jacobs has been an FFM correspondent on NFL games and NFL Draft matters for the past few years. He is going to be writing up some of his notes on various games he’s watching/studying this year. Typically, he will have written/submitted his work before mine, so this is a look at the same game with different eyes...and you can compare and contrast or find some new takeaways.
-The final score didn't really reflect how one-sided this game was. The Giants never had a chance. They are legitimately one of the worst teams in the league again. The Steelers though are one of the most talented, but I'm still seeing some things holding them back.
-The Giants problems begin with QB Daniel Jones. Jones isn't as bad as Darnold or Haskins, but he's not a whole lot better. Coaches love to talk about studious, worker-bee type QB's and how well they know the offensive playbook, but there is a huge difference between knowing the playbook in the classroom and being able to execute it on the field with 300 lb monsters trying to kill you. Jones may be a good QB coach someday, but a top level QB he is not. He suffers all the same problems as other failed QB's. He stares down receivers, makes bad decisions, and holds the ball too long under pressure. Unfortunately for the Giants they will probably stick with him 2 years too long at which point they'll draft another young QB and start all over again.
-Big Ben Roethlisberger is back from his 2019 injury and looking about as good as he was before. A little older, little bit less arm strength, but otherwise pretty good. He distributed the ball around pretty well, didn't force any passes, and kept his team moving despite constantly playing in 2nd and long and 3rd and long situations.
-Speaking of the Steelers being stuck in long downs, James Conner is a travesty of a RB. The guy was terrible, slow, and completely ineffective. I have no idea what head coach Mike Tomlin sees in him, but if they insist on Conner being the engine of the offense they are screwing themselves. The Steelers put themselves in those long situations over and over by trying to run Conner on 1st and 2nd down. It obviously wasn't working. You never want to see injuries, but Conner getting hurt was the best thing that could have happened for this offense. Backup Benny Snell played a pretty decent game here against a bad Giants defense, but he's just another guy. I will admit Snell looked much quicker than he did in 2019. Last year he was a slow-moving tugboat. This year he's plausible. Not a star but he works well enough. If this team would ever commit to getting 3rd stringer Jaylen Samuels the ball consistently they might actually have a top 5 offense on their hands.
-We all know Saquon Barkley is an athletic marvel and one of the better RB's in the league, but he just didn't have anywhere to run against a nasty, aggressive Steelers front seven. His one big play came on a short pass that got him into space. That's where Barkley plays his best game and what the Giants should be trying to do instead of run him up the middle.
-One Giants player I was impressed with here was 2nd year WR Darius Slayton. He is by far the Giants best and most effective receiver. Whether or not he can continue to produce with more attention from opposing defenses is yet to be seen.
-Not the best game for Steelers WR Diontae Johnson. He muffed a punt, dropped a couple passes, and ran a wrong route, but credit the Steelers for still going back to him. They seem to still believe in his talent, and I agree. There's times he looks like a poor man's Antonio Brown. You could do worse.
-Rookie Chase Claypool made an outstanding catch and foot tap over double coverage along the right sideline. There's a reason RC and I both had him at the top of our rookie WR rankings. Claypool is not just a big bodied athlete. He's a complete wide receiver and will be a star here before long.
-Very impressive showing by the Steelers defense. Granted the Giants aren't the best competition, but the Steelers were all over them, playing hard and aggressive all night. Daniel Jones was under constant duress, Barkley had nowhere to run, and the offensive line could barely block the Steelers pass rushers. Bud Dupree in particular gave rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas all he could handle.
-The Giants defense on the other hand looked very poor again. They have a massive defensive line, but that size is only good for stopping slow RB's like James Conner. It doesn't do any good trying to get pressure on the QB. Someone needs to tell Giants GM Dave Gettleman that this isn't 1970's football anymore.
-The Giants are a bottom feeder team once again, and the Steelers will be battling the Ravens for the AFC North crown. I can't wait to see how this defense stacks up against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
-Don't panic if you have Barkley. This was a tough first defense to face. It will get better and Barkley is still going to get his huge number of touches. He'll be fine.
-Slayton is a fine stash to see how he does going forward. He could be a possible WR2 this year.
-Diontae Johnson is a sneaky buy low. He had several bad plays here, but better days could be ahead. The Steelers clearly still believe he could be a star. Remember he is still only in year 2.
-I'd sell high on Benny Snell if I had him. He'll get plenty of touches as long as Conner is out, but he's really not a very good back, and the Steelers have some tough run defenses coming up. Get what you can for him now. This isn't the next Le'Veon Bell.