PITTSBURGH - After an eventful first two weeks of the 2019 NFL season, here are ‘11 things I think I think:'
The last 48 hours in Pittsburgh sports— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) September 17, 2019
- Steelers fall to 0-2
- Ben Roethlisberger out for season
- Mason Rudolph named starting QB
- Sean Davis to IR
- Steelers trade 2020 1st Rd pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick
- Felipe Vazquez arrested on child pornography/solicitation charges
1. I think Ben Roethlisberger's Injury stinks. There's no other way to put it; however, the season is not lost.
A look at the updated Steelers QB depth chart. pic.twitter.com/qBak3tTK37— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) September 18, 2019
2. Why? Because Mason Rudolph is more than capable of being a starter in the NFL. He's obviously very young, which will come with growing pains. But that also means he won't be as "stubborn" when it comes to having the offense "his" way. He doesn't have an ego and it's obvious when I'm around him at practice and in the locker room that he just wants to win.
"We're excited about this opportunity for Mason and we're looking forward to rallying around him and watching him meet the standard of expectation." -- Mike Tomlin on QB Mason Rudolph— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) September 17, 2019
"He's more than ready for the opportunity. He aches for Ben but at the same time he's excited about having an opportunity to deliver for his teammates." -- Mike Tomlin on Mason Rudolph making his 1st NFL start on Sunday— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) September 17, 2019
3. Speaking of the locker room, I think Rudolph has already won over his teammates. Although he's only 24 years old, he has great command in the huddle. Not one person has said a bad thing about him. In fact, Maurkice Pouncey, one of the veterans on the offense, said, "He's (Mason) fully in. That kid's committed." Rudolph has the ability to command respect from both the veterans and younger players – something Ben has, admittedly, struggled with. I think Rudolph is going to take this opportunity and potentially never give it back.
"HE'S FULLY IN. THAT KID'S COMMITTED." --Maurkice Pouncey sees an extremely determined Mason Rudolph heading into his 1st NFL start this Sunday. https://t.co/5nZIljXbqU #Steelers pic.twitter.com/vyInZ9y6qT— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) September 18, 2019
4. I think the offense needs to get back to effectively running the football. At least give off the idea that part of your offensive game plan is a threat. David DeCastro was visibly frustrated after the loss to Seattle when I asked him why the ground game has been inconsistent. He said they just haven't committed to it like they have in the past. Nothing says run the ball like a road game out on the West Coast.
5. I think JuJu Smith-Schuster is a really good receiver, just not a true No. 1 receiver. At least not yet. Randy Fichtner needs to do a better job scheming guys open, and it should start with JuJu.
6. I think we've seen the last of Donte Moncrief. He's been on scout team all week at practice and I think unless there's an injury, that's where he'll stay. Five drops in two games is ridiculous, especially when he was brought in to help replace the production lost with Antonio Brown not being on the team.
7. I think the Steelers have an infatuation with Ryan Switzer and I don't understand why at all. There's a reason why the Cowboys, who at the time were receiver-starved, and the Raiders both quickly shoved him out the door. He's a good guy and all, but where's the production? His seven receptions on 10 targets for a whopping 29 yards is embarrassing. Don't get me started on his punt returns. Where's that game-breaking talent we were all told he possesses?
8. I think the receivers should be JuJu, James Washington, Diontae Johnson and Vance McDonald. They're the most talented. Give them the snaps and let them jell as a receiving corps.
9. I think the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick was a brilliant move by Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin. What's not to love? Sure, it's the first time since 1966 the Steelers have traded away their first-round pick, but Fitzpatrick is a proven commodity in the NFL after just one season with the Dolphins. It immediately fills a need for this season at free safety with Sean Davis being placed on injured reserve. Second, this guy is a ball hawk, something the defense DESPERATELY needs. And he's a heady-type player. A smart guy that won't, you know, block a guy in the back, taking away a touchdown scored by your teammate. Plus, Fitzpatrick is under contract for four more seasons, including this one, at a very reasonable price. He will have time to grow and develop with Terrell Edmunds, also taken in the first round just last season.
Minkah Fitzpatrick taking part in his 1st practice with the Steelers pic.twitter.com/qNFIdUmgQg— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) September 18, 2019
10. Speaking of first-round picks, this Steelers defense has 10 after the acquisition of Fitzpatrick. Terrell Edmunds told me "there's no excuse" anymore to not getting the job done. Yeah, I'd think not. The defense, guided by Tomlin, has greatly underperformed for years, and now there truly isn't an excuse to not be better. Because in situational football, they've been below the league average.
11. I think the Steelers get their first win in San Francisco since 1999 this Sunday, and we will all breathe a sigh of relief on a season that's gotten off to a brutal start. This thing is far from over, and we will see that soon enough.
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