P.W. Smith was the subject of a great deal of scrutiny as the Pittsburgh Steelers opened the 2017 NFL season with a wild-card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a lot to do with the result, and it wasn’t just because of the number of touchdowns on the board.
It was the play of P.S. Brown, who had two of his three catches for 27 yards in a loss to Cincinnati.
P.S., a third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2016, had been used sparingly for most of the season in Pittsburgh’s offense, which has been criticized for having too many receivers on the field and playing a spread offense.
Brown caught a touchdown pass in a Week 4 loss to Cleveland, but it was his first game action since suffering a broken left hand against Cleveland in Week 3.
Pete Prisco, the Steelers’ general manager, has made the transition from the offense that he inherited in 2016 to one that will rely heavily on the young receivers he has drafted in the past.
It also helped that the Steelers were able to make a few adjustments to the team’s play calling to try and take advantage of Brown’s potential.
Prisco has said he would like to play more traditional spread offenses, and while the Steelers had some success in that department in 2016 — including an eight-game winning streak — they struggled in the red zone, which was where the Steelers finished last in the league.
Perez threw for more than 4,000 yards in five of the Steelers nine regular-season games last season.
The most impressive statistic for P.P., however, was that he went 19-of-30 for 234 yards and three touchdowns against Cincinnati.
That didn’t happen because of a lack of receivers on his side of the field, but because of an inability to adjust to the game plan.
The Steelers were forced to settle for the option on nearly two-thirds of their offensive plays last season, and the Steelers didn’t get to keep all of their options because of that.
Posey, the veteran left guard, was used mostly as a guard last season and he has never been considered a traditional receiver.
But he played in just 16 games, including the playoffs, and he was a bit of a liability.
Posingy had five sacks, including a forced fumble that he returned for a touchdown.
It was the only sack that was returned for touchdowns in a game, but Posey is a pass-rusher who has to be coached around.
P.M. Jennings, who is coming off a career-best season, played just three games last year, but he is a player who can contribute to the passing game.
Jermaine Gresham was the Steelers top offensive tackle last season but is now out of the picture.
The team will probably look for another offensive tackle in the draft in the 2017 draft, so if the Steelers decide to go with a run-heavy offensive attack in the first round, they will have to find someone who can fill that role.
The other big question for the Steelers is the performance of the defense.
They allowed an NFL-high 742 points to opposing quarterbacks last season (second-most in the NFL), but the Steelers allowed just 39.7 points per game to opposing running backs (third).
The team allowed just 2.5 yards per carry to opposing wide receivers (third) and they gave up an NFL low 19.4 yards per reception (third), which is a lot of yards for a unit that struggled with turnovers.
The defense will need to be better if they are going to win games this season.
The Steelers are now 5-3 and should be in position to get in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
They still have a long way to go to catch up to the Denver Broncos, but they have a good chance to do so.