A Little Payback Before The Bye

Try and count all the linemen holding on this play.

When the schedule was first put out, other than the Steelers return to Foxboro (which has since lost some luster), there was no game I wanted more of a win from than the fifth annual Jaguars-Steelers showdown. Either of the losses to the Jags last year was frustrating enough on its own, with the Steelers putting and digging themselves out of holes just to lose in the end. Taken together, you have to believe the team is staking a lot of pride on exacting some vengeance on Sunday, banged up or not.

With the way Ben took control of the game in the second half of the playoff game, people are expecting the pass to be focal point of whatever attack the Steelers are going to be able to muster. The fact that Gary Russell might be carrying the ball at some point probably factors into that as well. The no-huddle proved to be a decent catalyst against the Ravens and Ben showed he actually wants to get rid of the ball when he imposes a sense of urgency against the offense.

For the sake of not despairing about the running game, Mewelde Moore has shown flashes of explosive tendencies when he's actually been utilized. I'm assuming those showing didn't consist of the six plunges up the gut that Arians called for him against the Ravens. Perhaps - and I don't wanna rock the boat too violently here - Arians could get a back known to have pretty good hands out in the flat. Subversive ideas are dangerous, but you never know - they work out sometimes.

The loss of Hampton and Keise was evident last week against Bawlmer. Woodley and Harrison got decent pressure at times on Flacco but there were far too many times when he had tons of time to sit in the pocket, even if many of those were behind max protect schemes. The run D, while adequate, still managed to let Le'Ron McClain peel off a respectable 63 yards on 16 carries. If there's a point of emphasis against the Jags, it's tamping down on the ground attack. As the Steelers showed in the playoffs and has been demonstrated through the Jags' first four games is that David Garrard is more prone to mistakes than his reputation would suggest if he's put in difficult passing situations.

In a lot of ways, this is one of the most important games on the Steelers schedule: a chance to go 4-1 going into the bye against a likely (though if they fall to 2-3, who knows?) playoff opponent and a chance to show that they're done having their identity put into question by the Jags. No one expects anything to come easy Sunday night, but they need to a little more forceful a performance than we've seen the last two outings, both this season and against Jacksonville.

1 comment:

matt said...

Everytime I see this play I get sick, but I had to watch it again.

It's hard to be confident going into this game.