Thursday, January 3, 2008

5 Keys For a Steelers Win On Saturday

It's been a while since I wrote anything, so here are 5 keys for a Steelers win over the Jaguars on Saturday.

1. Defense must maintain their gaps

Obviously, the loss of Aaron Smith has severely hampered the run defense. But other factors can be attributed to the significant decline of the run defense. A disturbing trend I’ve noticed over the past couple of games is the over-pursuit of our linebackers creating huge holes in the defense for running backs to waltz through. A perfect example of this was last week’s 32-yard touchdown run by Ravens scrub Cory Ross. Larry Foote over pursued this play in an unbelievable fashion, and Ross made an easy cutback through a hole you could have driven a Mack truck through. The good news is that these are easily correctable mistakes that will markedly improve the run defense. The bad news: as I said, it’s been going on for a few weeks, so it’s a bit troublesome that it hasn’t been corrected already. Fred Taylor is a great back, and one of his greatest assets is his superior vision and patience. He killed us on cutbacks in the last game, and he’ll do it again if the Steelers run defense doesn’t maintain their gaps.

2. Attack the Jaguars safeties

Both of the Jacksonville safeties are pretty good players. Rookie free safety Reggie Nelson has had a fine rookie season, and savvy veteran Sammy Knight mans the strong safety position. However, each can be had through the air. Much like our own Anthony Smith, Nelson likes to gamble and go for the big play. He’s susceptible to double moves and pump fakes. If the Steelers running game can get going, watch for a deep strike from Roethlisberger to one of our wideouts as a result of Nelson’s aggressiveness. Knight won’t get fooled like Nelson, but his physical skills are declining. He is among the slowest safeties in the league, and any of our wide receivers can outrun him. Knight might even have trouble keeping up with Heath Miller. He makes up for his physical limitations with smart football instincts and a knack for being in the right place at the right time, but plays can definitely be made against him.

3. Help out Trash Essex

Essex gets the starting nod this week because of injuries to Marvel Smith and Max Starks. He’ll go up against Jaguars DE Paul Spicer, which is a huge mismatch in favor of Jacksonville. The Steelers need to do all they can to help Essex from getting Ben killed on a blind-side hit. I don’t care if that means keeping a tight end in to block or having a running back chip Spicer on the way to his passing route. Do whatever is necessary to make sure Essex gets help, because if he doesn’t Ben might not last the entire game.

4. Get a lead

This one is kind of obvious. We know what the Jaguars want to do on offense. They want to run the football. They want to put Garrard in manageable situations where he’ll be able to easily convert for first downs. If the Steelers can get a sizable lead, it will take the Jaguars out of their comfort zone. It will force Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio to panic and start passing the ball, and that’s when the mistakes will come. Garrard has been relatively mistake-free this season because the Jaguars running game has put him in positions to be successful. Make him throw, and I think we’ll see a few opportunities for turnovers.

5. Good weather on Saturday night

This is easily discernable by looking at each team’s strengths on offense. The Jaguars want to run. On the other hand, our bread and butter is now the passing game, even moreso than it was previously now that Willie Parker has been lost for the season. A clear night with no precipitation and little wind will tilt the playing field in our favor. Let’s hope the weather Gods will give Ben a nice, slippery-free surface to scramble around on and little to no wind to deal with when he finds an open receiver to throw to. I can guarantee you the Jaguars would much prefer mucky weather like the last game. A little weird, huh? A team from Florida hoping for snowy weather, while the big bad Pittsburgh Steelers hope for a clear night with no precipitation. I have to admit, it does make me a little sick to the stomach. Whatever. Looks like the weather Gods are complying thus far. Current forecast for Saturday night: 30 degrees, partly cloudy, 10% chance of precipitation, light winds.

End of Post


Anonymous said...

I hear ya on wishing for good weather. Doesn't it suck that it has come to that for us?

Anonymous said...

It's embarrassing. Glad we have a QB who can throw, but the Steelers as a good weather team is about as alien as the Pirates being a winning team.

I Want To Fight Tom Brady said...

If we lose this game, I say fire Bruce Arians and hire Cam Cameron.

Arians has been awful this year. We run a very predictable run game, and his goal line play calling has been the worst I've seen in a long time.

Fire Arians!

Dave Wannstache said...

If we lose this game, I say fire Bruce Arians and hire Cam Cameron.

Arians has been awful this year. We run a very predictable run game, and his goal line play calling has been the worst I've seen in a long time.

Fire Arians!

I'm not ready to throw Arians under the bus. Yet.

Does his playcalling leave a lot to be desired at times? Sure. But you can't deny the facts, and his offense is putting up 25 points per game.

Furthermore, any offensive coordinator will have a rough going if his offensive line is as bad as the one we have in Pittsburgh. Hiring Cam Cameron won't prove to be some magic elixir for the horrible O-line play. I'd like to see Arians offense operate with an offensive line that can give Ben more than a second to throw the ball.

I Want To Fight Tom Brady said...

True stache...true...but I feel like every time the Steelers run, I know it's coming. Either I should be a defensive coordinator, or Arians is way too readable with his run play calls.

Burt Friggin' Hoovis said...

Wait, did I hear you right? Fire Arians and Hire Cam Cameron?



I Want To Fight Tom Brady said...

Let me tell you why I like Cam Cameron:

1) He runs the ball in the red zone.

I'm so tired of Arians throwing the ball when we get to the endzone! The field is too short to throw it. Davenport is proven in shortyardage! Patriots game...what was it 1st and goal on the 2? He ran once...twice? I don't really remember, but I know time and time again I am questioning his play-calling.