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Steelers Grades, Snap Counts vs. Dolphins: Changed-Up Defense Gets Results



Steelers DL Cam Heyward

The Pittsburgh Steelers started ugly and finished just short of a comeback upset victory in Sunday night’s 16-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Here’s the player grades and snap counts from the Week 7 loss.


Kenny Pickett did not have a great day statistically, with his three interceptions significant impacting his traditional stats like passer rating, where he is currently last among NFL starters. PFF was more forgiving, giving Pickett a 65.6 grade, in the middle of the pack when it comes to Steelers quarterbacks this season.

QB Mitch Trubisky 0 -42% -42%
QB Kenny Pickett 75 100% +42%

Trubisky, Cleveland 80.3
Trubisky, Tampa Bay, 78.8
Pickett, NY Jets, 66.9
Pickett, Buffalo, 65.8
Pickett, Miami, 65.6
Trubisky, Cincinnati, 62
Trubisky, New England, 61.6
Trubisky, NY Jets, 60.7
Pickett, Tampa Bay, 49.5


Najee Harris gained slightly in his time-share with Jaylen Warren, but the undrafted rookie out-performed the second-year first-round pick. Warren had four combined touches for 24 yards (6.0 y/t) while Harris had 80 yards on 20 touches (4.0 y.t). The grades reflect that advantage, with Warren checking in at 60.6 and Harris at 59.7. Harris was helped by a better pass-blocking grade, though both had strong marks in that category.

RB Najee Harris 58 77% +8%
RB Jaylen Warren 17 23% -8%
FB Derek Watt 7 9% +4%
RB Benny Snell Jr. 0 0%


Kevin Dotson had the best grade of the bunch with an 83.9, as seemingly a different member of the line each week steps up for one good performance. The issue is the average hasn’t moved much. Tackles Chuks Okorafor (52.3) and Dan Moore Jr. (43.1) really struggled in Miami.

LT Dan Moore Jr. 75 100%
RT Chukwuma Okorafor 75 100%
LG Kevin Dotson 75 100%
RG James Daniels 75 100%
C Mason Cole 75 100% +2%
C J.C. Hassenauer 0 0% -2%
TE Trent Scott 0 0% -3%
T Jesse Davis 0 0%


Pat Freiermuth was limited in his return from the concussion protocol, but in less than his usual workload, he got the second-highest grade among the Steelers offense with a 69.3.

TE Pat Freiermuth 44 59% +59%
TE Zach Gentry 34 45% -21%
TE Connor Heyward 5 7% -40%


George Pickens’ freak touchdown catch was only enough to get him to a 68.1, which led the receivers on a poorly-graded day for Chase Claypool (57.7) and Diontae Johnson (54.7)

WR Chase Claypool 64 85% -1%
WR Diontae Johnson 70 93% -2%
WR George Pickens 59 79% -4%
WR Gunner Olszewski 10 13% +13%
WR Miles Boykin 7 9% +3%
WR Steven Sims 0 0% -9%


It seems clear that Tyson Alualu’s place on the defensive line depth chart continues to slide. Once the top backup to starting tackles Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi, he’s now slid behind Chris Wormley, Isaiahh Loudermilk and Montravius Adams in the rotation. Just one of his snaps was as a tradition 3-4 nose tackle over the A-gap, while Adams got 12 snaps in that role. His reduction in playing time has followed miserable grades, as Alualu posted a team-worst 33.6 on Sunday. Adams wasn’t much better at 37. Wormley, on the other hand, was the fourth-highest rated defender at 67.2.

DT/DE Cam Heyward 48 77% +2%
DT/DE Larry Ogunjobi 39 63% -1%
NT/DT Tyson Alualu 11 18% 0%
DT Chris Wormley 21 34% +12%
DE DeMarvin Leal 0 0% 0%
NT Montravius Adams 20 32% +17%
DE Isaiahh Loudermilk 20 32% +1%


Malik Reed had one of this best games with the Steelers at a 68.4 grade, but continues to play mostly in pass-down situations, while Loudermilk runs the end opposite Alex Highsmith in the base 4-2 Nickel. The Steelers have gotten back to having two distinct Nickel packages, one for run downs and one for pass downs. Alex Highsmith (58.3) had an uncharacteristically low grade.

OLB Alex Highsmith 54 87% +1%
OLB Malik Reed 33 53% -9%
OLB Jamir Jones 3 5% -2%
OLB Ryan Anderson 10 16% +12%
OLB T.J. Watt 0 0%


Myles Jack continues to dominate the playing time. Devin Bush had a 79.8 grade against the pass and a 41.7 grade against the run. That’s starting to look like the player many hoped he might be when they drafted him.

ILB Myles Jack 52 84% +10%
ILB Devin Bush Jr. 46 74% +10%
ILB Robert Spillane 36 58% -13%
ILB Marcus Allen 0 0%
ILB Mark Robinson 0 0%


Big changes here make the two Nickel packages more clear, with Art Maulet, James Pierre and Cam Sutton rotating through two spots. Pierre and Sutton rotated at outside corner. It’s not clear if Sutton was limited because of his return from hamstring injury or if Pierre’s strong play in his absence earned him a greater role. Maulet played solely in the slot.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (82.7) and Sutton (79.6) were the highest-graded players on the Steelers defense.

SS Terrell Edmunds 62 100%
FS Minkah Fitzpatrick 62 100% +100%
BCB Ahkello Witherspoon 0 0%
BCB/SCB Cam Sutton 31 50% +50%
BCB Levi Wallace 61 98% +98%
SCB Art Maulet 31 50% -28%
FS/SCB/SS Tre Norwood 10 16% -83%
SS Miles Killebrew 0 0% -1%
BCB James Pierre 32 52% -42%
BCB/SCB Josh Jackson 0 0% -82%
BCB Quincy Wilson 0 0% -15%
FS/SCB Elijah Riley 0 0% -12%


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