Any hype about the Pittsburgh Steelers before 2016 was fully warranted. The offense is ridiculous and absolutely loaded at the skill positions -- and the Steelers are not even remotely at full strength yet.
Despite missing multiple key players, the Steelers took the Redskins to the woodshed during the Monday night early game, winning 38-16. It was an overwhelming offensive show led by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.
But remember who's missing: Martavis Bryant is suspended for the season, Le'Veon Bell is missing for three games and Lardarius Green is on the PUP list and his contribution for 2016 is in question.
It helps when you have Brown, obviously, but give Kevin Colbert credit for stocking the cupboard in Pittsburgh. Jesse James stepped right up as a tight end for the Steelers, piling up dump-off yardage and looking like a poor man's Heath Miller. Eli Rogers is a terror in the slot and a PPR machine. Sammie Coates made multiple big plays. DeAngelo Williams -- I mean, not enough is said about what he's done filling in for Bell. He was outstanding on Monday, cruising over 100 total yards and evaporating a couple of Redskins defenders on a beautiful touchdown run.
And yet he wasn't penalized 15 yards for his filthy moves.
What that DeAngelo Williams cut just did to those Washington defenders was more vulgar than Antonio Brown's dance.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) September 13, 2016
His contract is also worth remembering because it's one of the best deals in football given how he's helped with Bell down.
Steelers signed DeAngelo to a 2-year, $4 million deal last March. Looks criminal now— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) September 13, 2016
Here are four more takeaways from the Steelers' big opening win:
2. What Brown Can Do For You
The answer is "everything" and there's a reason why he's considered the best receiver in the NFL and easily the top pick in every single fantasy draft this season. Brown is an absolute animal, capable of destroying cornerbacks in multiple ways.
He's shifty, quick, a stupendous route runner and he'll smoke you deep.
The best part about that play? It came on a fourth-and-1 where many believed Roethlisberger checked to a pass at the line when he saw the Redskins stacking the box.
"Oh no, that was the call all the way," coach Mike Tomlin told Lisa Salters at halftime.
Love the aggressiveness. Brown might want to consider toning down the aggressiveness in the end zone, because, as we all know, FUN WILL NOT BE TOLERATED IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE.
Brown probably generated a few letters to the FCC with his NSFW-ish end-zone dance following a second touchdown catch from Roethlisberger.
It was reminiscent not just of his pole-dancing routine against the Steelers late last year (because it involved his man parts being prominently featured in a touchdown dance) but also of Ned Flanders on the ski slope.
Stupid sexy Antonio got dinged $11,000 for his end-zone celebration last year. He'll probably get tagged for this and it already cost his team 15 yards. He's more than worth the hassle, regardless of what Mike Tomlin might say.
3. Kirk Cousins does himself no favors
The Redskins have claimed -- or at least people have claimed for the Redskins -- that they have the best pass catchers in the entire NFL. It might be right. DeSean Jackson looked incredibly fast Monday and he's a dangerous deep threat. Jordan Reed is an animal. Jamison Crowder is criminally underrated.
But it doesn't matter if the trigger man isn't firing and Kirk Cousins, the million dollar man, wasn't firing. He finished 30-for-43, which pegs him right at his very nice 69 percent completion percentage from last year. And he averaged more than seven yards per attempt.
And yet, he wasn't on. Cousins threw a pair of picks, and could've thrown another one on an early miscommunication with Jackson. He was scattershot early on and got lots of yardage after the catch from Reed.
He couldn't push the ball down the field. At one point he ran out of bounds three yards short of the sticks on fourth down. It was pretty awkward.
Jon Gruden is making audible sounds of anguish watching Kirk Cousins— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) September 13, 2016
Few things more hopeless than "Kirk Cousins has to throw something other than a short pass to convert."— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) September 13, 2016
Hi, I'm Kirk Cousins of 2014 and I have cable.— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) September 13, 2016
And, despite his taking Washington to a division title last year, his inability to beat teams considered, um, good, still very much lingers.
At least this loss doesn't affect Kirk Cousins' record vs teams w/ a winning record.— Robert Flores (@RoFlo) September 13, 2016
But there's also the issue of Washington's balance here. A totally separate takeaway could be the inability of the Redskins to run the football. They let Alfred Morris walk in free agency and it's just Matt Jones and Chris Thompson back there. It's not going to work.
Especially when Cousins isn't the type of quarterback you want throwing from third-and-long every single series/set of downs. Even the best quarterbacks don't want to operate behind schedule. Cousins can't do it.
Jones and Thompson averaged 4.3 yards per carry on the night, which was surprising, but it's not hard to up your YPC when you only have 11 carries for the entire game. The running game just wasn't there early. Or at all.
In the first half, Cousins saw six different third-down situations and only one of them was less than six yards. This offense is supposed to prop up Cousins, not the other way around. Which is probably why the Redskins didn't pay him this offseason.
4. The Josh Norman Conundrum
Poor, poor, poor, POOR Breshaud Breeland. Guy develops as a really nice cornerback in the league, the Redskins go out and sign Josh Norman and promptly let all the really dangerous receivers drift Breeland's way.
It's not illogical that the Skins would do this: Norman isn't a "lockdown" corner per se. Shutdown corners travel with top receivers and stop them from producing. Norman locked down one side of the field and the Steelers -- wisely -- shifted Brown in the direction of Breeland.
There isn't much anyone can do against Brown, so Breeland shouldn't feel too bad. But Norman and his $75 million deal not matching up on Pittsburgh's finest? Yeah, not good for Breeland. It's brutal to see such a talented guy get lit up repeatedly by the best receiver in football.
Redskins paid Josh Norman $75M to stand on the other side of the field while Antonio Brown takes Bashaud Breeland for a dog walk.— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) September 13, 2016
Pay Josh Norman top of market contract to watch someone else cover Antonio Brown? Seems an inefficient use of resources. #PITvsWAS— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) September 13, 2016
The Redskins signed Josh Norman to let Antonio Brown reave Bashaud Breeland's soul?— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) September 13, 2016
$15 million a year and they don't put Josh Norman on Antonio Brown.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 13, 2016
Not having Josh Norman on Antonio Brown in that situation is just dumb. I don't get it. What are you paying him for?! #PITvsWAS— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) September 13, 2016
On the Norman part of this though, what's going to happen moving forward? The Redskins don't play Brown every week, but they do get Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham, Jr. the next two weeks.
Those guys are a little bit different because they're not quite as shifty and quick as Brown -- although Beckham is like a slinky who is sneaky short and can just get so freaking long when he's stretching for footballs. They're physical wideouts who better suit a Norman matchup.
But if Washington continues to just stick Norman on one side of the field and let offenses dictate coverage, the contract Norman got is going to continue to look questionable if the rest of the secondary is getting smoked.
5. Shazier is special
The offense put on the show, but the Steelers are a complete team. Ryan Shazier is a dang freak, man.
He dropped into coverage on Reed in the red zone and made an incredible play breaking up a would-be touchdown pass to the tight end. Later, he intercepted Cousins.
He also had a forced fumble and five tackles in the game before leaving with a right knee injury the Steelers say is not an issue. If he's healthy for 16 games he can make a run into the DPOY conversation.
This feels like the deepest Steelers defense in a while. There's tons of early-round, home-grown talent on that side of the ball.