Scouting Report: Pittsburgh Steelers
Offensive DVOA: -35.7% (29th) Passing: -21.1 (25th) Rushing: -27.7% (23rd)
Defensive DVOA: 36.6% (29th) Passing: 64.5% (29th) Rushing: 5.9% (23rd)
Special Teams DVOA: -3.3% (22nd)
Last Week: Loss @Denver, 19-31
A 12 point loss masks what was a very close game between the Steelers and Broncos, with the Broncos saving their best for the fourth quarter in order to take the lead and hold onto it. Defensively Pittsburgh did a good job slowing down the Denver offense until Peyton Manning kicked up the tempo by switching to a no-huddle offense. From that point, the Pittsburgh defense had no answer for Manning who once more looked the part of one of the league’s best all-time quarterbacks. Offensively, Roethlisberger showcased his ability to extend plays and find receivers down field despite the pressure the Denver defense was able to apply. Eventually though the Denver defense forced Roethlisberger into a crucial mistake, throwing an interception on Pittsburgh’s potential game-winning drive that Tracy Porter returned for a touchdown.
Out: ILB Stevensen Sylvester
Doubtful: RB Rashard Mendenhall
Questionable: OLB James Harrison, SS Troy Polamalu
Probable: RB Jonathan Dwyer, DE Ziggy Hood, OT Max Starks
The Steelers list James Harrison and Troy Polamalu as questionable, but CBSSports.com reports that both Harrison and Polamalu are likely to miss the game on Sunday. Mendenhall looks unlikely to play for the second straight week but expect Jonathan Dwyer to play and see most of the carries after showing some promise against Denver. The Steelers suffered a few in-game injuries on the offensive line last Sunday with RG Ramon Foster and RT Marcus Gilbert missing most of the game, but both players had no injury concerns coming into the practice week and will start.
Defending the “Second Play” - When game planning for the Steelers offense, one of the key points to focus on is Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to hold onto the ball and extend passing plays. Without Darrelle Revis, this becomes more difficult as all defensive backs must be able to stick to their man for much longer periods at times than on conventional offensive plays and the corner depth will be tested. Not only will Kyle Wilson be tested as a starter, but Ellis Lankster will see a lot of Emmanuel Sanders and Isiah Trufant of Jerricho Cotchery in dime. With Roethlisberger’s knack for holding onto the ball and trying to make plays coupled with the struggles Pittsburgh’s line has had in pass protection, the Jets will get their opportunities to sack Roethlisberger. It is incredibly important for the likes of Aaron Maybin, Calvin Pace, Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples to take those opportunities and make them count. Otherwise, the Jets will be the victims of a lot of frustrating third and long conversions.
Protecting the Quarterback - The Jets offensive line held up well against a Bills defensive line with some talented players, but the Steelers will be a different animal. It’ll be a much more mentally taxing endeavor for the Jets offensive line dealing with Dick Lebeau’s 3-4 zone blitz scheme. The Bills were hoping to get pressure by a conventional four man rush, which the Jets dealt with easily. The Steelers bring an unpredictability factor that the Bills did not, and will look to confuse the Jets offensive line with exotic blitzes. If the offensive line can successfully keep Sanchez upright, there will be opportunities to target a secondary that will likely be without standout safety Troy Polamalu.
A Fast Start - The key difference between the victory the Jets had over Pittsburgh in the regular season in 2010 and the loss ultimately suffered in the AFC Championship game was how the team came out of the gates. The Jets had put seven points on the board before fans could even sit in their seats in the first game and it gave the Jets a confidence that resonated for the entire game, whereas it took three quarters to score the first touchdown in the AFC Championship game and it was too little, too late. A fast start will help the Jets immensely, and fill players with belief that they can continue the efficiency on offense that had been displayed for four quarters last week versus Buffalo.