For the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) and the New York Jets (1-0), Sunday afternoon’s game will be of prime importance. For the Steelers, this will be an opportunity for them to face a possible contender and get themselves back on track after the heartbreaking loss to Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos in Week 1.
Here are 3 to Focus On for the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers must control the clock in this game by holding onto the ball for long periods of time.
While no one is going to claim that the Jets are an explosive offense, they do have some great weapons in receiver Stephen Hill and wildcat quarterback Tim Tebow. These are guys who could hurt the Steelers if they get the chance.
Controlling the clock will prevent that.
I doubt that the lesson Peyton Manning taught last week about continuously using the no-huddle offense to tire out a veteran defense will be lost on the rest of the NFL. The Steelers had absolutely no answer for the no-huddle in that game. If they still don’t, they need to stay off the field as much as possible.
Todd Haley’s system showed up well in Week 1, proving that this team can still pass the ball a lot and control the clock effectively. The Steelers had one drive that lasted almost an entire quarter and several other lengthy ones.
The equation here is simple: control the ball, win the game.
Pittsburgh needs to generate continual and consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback.
The Steelers defense has always been predicated on a successful and vicious front seven. The work of James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley in conjunction with the defensive line has always taken the heat off a secondary that is rarely a priority when putting the roster together.
That has now twice come back to bite the Steelers against Denver.
I saw a lot of Casey Hampton on Sunday night. I won’t say he didn’t play well. He was his usual self and looks fully recovered from his knee injury. The problem is that he has never been athletic enough to generate good pressure up the middle.
Steve McLendon is good enough and athletic enough to bring that element to the team. He needs to be the every-down nose tackle. Pressure up the middle will force Mark Sanchez to the outside, where he’s less comfortable, and likely into the pass rush of Woodley and Harrison.
Effective pressure creates turnovers. Turnovers will create opportunities for Pittsburgh and remove them for the Jets. It also will help mask the fact that Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen are still learning to cover NFL receivers.
The Running Game
The Steelers have to get more from their running game than they did in the first game of the season.
A productive running game helps the Steelers in many ways. It opens up the possibility of effective play-action, something that the Steelers have the talent to capitalize on with their wide receivers.
Ben Roethlisberger has a tremendous fake which can freeze a defense. Combine that with the speed at receiver and you can visualize some huge plays.
The Steelers didn’t get a lot from the rushing attack against Denver. Part of that relates back to the blocking problems we’ve already discussed. Part of it is play selection.
My one beef with Todd Haley and previous coordinators is that they are slavishly devoted to the toss play.
It’s not a high-percentage play for the Steelers and hasn’t been effective since Willie Parker ran it. The Steelers don’t have the right blocking scheme to make it work and they don’t have the athleticism along the line to set the edge and keep outside linebackers and corners out of the play.
The Steelers have attempted the toss with guys like Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. Neither player is fast enough to exploit an opening on the edge. Both are more effective on off-tackle or inside runs. Chris Rainey would be the guy I’d use, but even then I think the toss is an unnecessary play.
Who Will Win & Why
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the more talented team and even though after week one the Jet’s look more well rounded the Steelers have more key positional match ups in their favor.
With troy Polamalu and James Harrison out of the Game for the Steelers and Darrelle Revis and Dustin Keller ruled out for the Jets, Pittsburgh will need to take advantage of the weakend Jet’s defense as well as find a way not to allow the Jets to expliot their own wounded warriors.
Look for this game to come down to key turnovers but in the end the Steelers to pull out the win.
Steelers 24 Jets 17