Eric Ebron was the crown jewel of the Steelers' 2020 free agent class. A Pro Bowler in 2018, the former Colt was acquired to provide Ben Roethlisberger with perhaps his most gifted tight end since Heath Miller hung up his cleats five years ago. But through two games, Ebron has just four receptions for 61 yards. His seven targets is just the 25th highest total among tight ends.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, when asked about Ebron's slow start during his weekly press conference, offered a positive perspective on his new tight end.
"It's early. Keep watching," Tomlin said of Ebron's slow statistical start. "That's all I can say to that. At this juncture in the season, you can ask a lot of those type of questions. A two-game body of work is not a big enough sample to assess. We are pleased with the development of Ebron and his role within our system, and time will tell that story as we proceed."
Despite his lack of targets, Ebron was able to come up with several big plays during the Steelers' first two games. Down 10-3 against the Giants in Week 1, Ebron's 18-yard catch (his first as a Steeler) helped set up Pittsburgh's first touchdown, a 10-yard strike from Roethlisberger to JuJu Smith-Schuster. His 15-yard catch this past Sunday set up Pittsburgh's first touchdown, while his 21-yard grab near the end of the third quarter helped set up Roethlisberger's 28-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson.
Steelers fans should take comfort in the fact that the Steelers are 2-0 despite Ebron's modest numbers. Through two games, Roethlisberger has thrown touchdown passes to Smith-Schuster, Johnson, third year wideout James Washington and rookie Chase Claypool. He has also thrown 10 completions to his running backs and two completions to tight end Vance McDonald.
The Steelers' depth at their skill positions has certainly paid dividends for Roethlisberger. Instead of relying too much on one or two players, Big Ben has been able to keep defenses at bay by spreading the ball around. That depth, and Roethlisberger's ability to take advantage of it, is one of the biggest reasons for big Ben's early success. Through two games, Roethlisberger has completed 68.5% of his passes with just five touchdowns and one interception.
Pittsburgh will likely look to Ebron to make more plays this Sunday, particularly in the red zone. While the Texans are still in search of their first win, Houston's defense enters Sunday's game ranked third in fewest passing yards allowed in sixth in red zone efficiency.