NFL from the Sidelines

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O-R Sports reporter Dale Lolley gets you the insider scoop on the NFL.

After hobnobbing around the NFL in the press boxes and sidelines, sports reporter Dale Lolley will let you know the insider scoop. Dale can also be heard on the Steelers radio network pre-game show prior to every game. Follow him on Twitter at dlolleyor.

Post-Arizona thoughts

October 18, 2015
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones (3) celebrates with tight end Matt Spaeth (89) after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Martavis Bryant in the fourth quarter an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 25-13. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

I have to admit, I laughed at the people on social media who thought the Steelers should go to Landry Jones when Mike Vick was struggling.

But there was a method to my madness.

I have not only seen Jones in all of his preseason glory - or lack thereof - but in a lot of practice sessions as well.

He typically throws a nice, soft pass, one that is just as easily caught by his team as it is by the defense.

And Jones throws a lot of passes to the defense in practice.

But we saw the good Landry Jones Sunday. When he drops back, plants at three, five or seven steps and throws, he can be pretty good.

When he has to start scanning the field for an open receiver, he struggles.

Kudos to offensive coordinator Todd Haley for recognizing that as well and putting Jones in a position where he could complete 8 of 12 passes for 168 yards and two scores in the Steelers’ 25-13 win.

@ As the Cardinals continued to go up and down the field and put up tons of yardage without scoring, I was reminded why Bruce Arians was replaced by Haley as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.

That and the seven QB hits and one sack that Carson Palmer took in this game.

@ In the offseason, I was asked on a radio show who I felt the Steelers could least do without for a long stretch of time - other than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

I answered left tackle Kelvin Beachum.

We’ll find out about that now. Beachum is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. That’s a big blow for him and the Steelers as well.

Beachum will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and isn’t going to get a big contract coming off an ACL injury.

Perhaps the Steelers will be inclined to sign him back - at least for a one-year prove-it deal.

On the other hand, they will now get a chance to see if Alejandro Villanueva can handle being a left tackle in the league.

If that doesn’t work out, this team will have problems.

By going 2-1 without Roethlisberger, the Steelers have shown that they are Super Bowl contenders.

But it will be awfully tough to get there without a solid left tackle.

@ Stephon Tuitt went down with a sprained knee in this one. His status moving forward will likely be week-to-week.

That hurts because he had really been playing well and had been part of a defense that has just been killing the run - Baltimore aside.

The Steelers allowed a paltry 2.8 yards per carry against the Cardinals, which was a big reason why Arizona went 1-4 in the red zone.

I did like the move the Steelers made with Tuitt out, however, of using Steve McLendon in the nickel defense. They did that against New England in the opener, as well.

McLendon is without a doubt one of their top three defensive linemen. In fact, if Tuitt can’t play next week, I’d think about getting him some snaps at defensive end with Cam Thomas or Daniel McCullers at the nose. Thomas can’t play end but is decent at the nose, while McCullers gives you a big body at the nose as well.

@ The Steelers gave up some big pass plays in this game, with Arizona making catches of 45, 44, 42 and 33 yards. But even after those big plays, they got the receiver on the ground.

That hasn’t been a big problem this season but it has been in previous years.

It’s one thing to get hit for a big play. It happens in a league in which the defense is set up to fail.

But you can’t allow those big plays to go for scores every time. The Steelers are getting guys on the ground and lining up again.

They entered Sunday’s game seventh in scoring defense and limited Arizona, which was averaging 38 points per game, to 13.

I don’t care how many yards they allow. Points and wins are the biggest way to measure a defense.

@ You see what a big receiver can do for an offense.

Antonio Brown is an outstanding talent. He’s pound-for-pound the best receiver in the NFL.

But he had three catches for 24 yards in this one as Vick and Jones struggled to get him the ball.

They had not such issues with Martavis Bryant. While both Bryant and Brown had eight targets each, Bryant had six catches for 137 yards and two scores.

@ Sunday’s game was the first in Le’Veon Bell’s career in which he not only failed to catch a pass, he wasn’t even targeted.

Roethlisberger can’t get back soon enough for Brown or Bell.

It could be this week.

Mike Tomlin will play this out as long as he can this week so as not to tip his hand to Kansas City. But it should be apparent by Wednesday, when the team starts formulating its game plan, who is going to be under center against the Chiefs.

@ Remember how concerned you were when the Steelers’ schedule came out?

Remember how it was going to be tough to beat all of those NFC West teams? The Steelers are now 3-0 against the NFC West.

That’s why you should never get too worked up about a schedule in May.

Dale Lolley

After hobnobbing around the NFL in the press boxes and sidelines, sports reporter Dale Lolley will let you know the insider scoop. Dale can also be heard on the Steelers radio network pre-game show prior to every game. Follow him on Twitter at dlolleyor.

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