LAST week vs the Buccaneers, we saw that the Defense seems to be well ahead of schedule with absorbing their concepts and jelling together. We saw Cover Two coverage result in some big-time plays, and the interior was stingy vs the run. We also saw that the Offense is still (and I’m being kind here), a “work in progress”. Now let’s take a look at the next four things we need to do, in this game vs the Steelers.
1) The Defense needs to pick up where it left off last week. The Steelers are a much better offensive team than the Bucs are. In every aspect. If we can put on a good showing for the first half, then Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz can start writing the top of his depth chart in ink, and the last two games will be primarily a search for depth and package assignments.
2) More of starting QB Sam Bradford. Not a lot more though. Normally, I’d want to see him until midway through the second quarter. However, since his back-up, Chase Daniel really seems to need the work, yanking Bradford at the end of the first quarter would be the smart way to go. Bradford has a long injury history, so odds are that we’ll need Daniel at some point this year. It’s better if Daniel gets as much live practice vs starting defenses as he can get, before we have to count on him.
3) Let’s see someone other than Lane Johnson start at RT. Whoever is going to be our starter this season (10 if 16 games), needs as much live work as he can get. Halapoulivaati “Hal” Vaitai was an all out disaster there last week. If RG Brandon Brooks (bicep injury) can play, then Isaac Seumalo should start at LG and Allen Barbre should get a long look at RT.
4) Rookie RB Wendell Smallwood running the ball inside.
Last week RB Ryan Mathews looked good on a couple of carries right through the teeth of the defense. However, when he came out of the game, most of the night was spent unimpressively trying to run outside with RB Kenjon Barner and rookie WR/RB Byron Marshall. With our WR’s, that won’t help this Offense at all. We need to be able to run the ball inside to draw opposing Safeties closer to the hash-marks, so that our WR’s have more room to create separation on the boundaries.
Again, this is just the preseason. It’s a diagnostic tool/laboratory. It is very important that we don’t get too up over any win, or too down over any loss. As long as guys stay healthy and motivated to compete, we’ll get a better result in 2016 than we had in 2015.