Saturday, October 12, 2013

No More Games For Steelers, Jets Are A Must-Win

In our last article, we discussed how the defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been bereft of takeaways so far this season and how that this, along with a shortage of sacks (and not the taking away of ping-pong), needs to change for the team's long-term success. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2013/10/steelers-go-back-in-time-as-they.html

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the lack of takeaways has the Steelers on the verge of establishing an unenviable mark: no team in NFL history has failed to record a turnover five games into a season. 

That touches on one of the four things the Steelers must do to defeat the New York Jets. All of which we discuss below. 

Eliminate Turnovers - Well, not only have the Steelers not produced enough takeaways, but the offense has had too many giveaways. The offense has given the ball away 11 times in four games with the main culprit being quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. 

Big Ben has committed eight turnovers, throwing five interceptions and fumbling three times. While not every turnover was solely on him, he shoulders the majority of the blame. Steelers safety Ryan Clark even went so far as to say that the team isn't "playing well enough... (to) take sacks and have turnovers." 

Though Big Ben is well aware of this and endeavors to play a clean game, he isn't going to change his style of play.

“It is what it is. I’m just going to play the game the way that I play it and try not to turn it over,” Big Ben said. - http://tinyurl.com/ldnm95r
Offensive Line Gelling -Remember the scene in Blazing Saddles where Mongo punched the horse? Well, it's the only thing I could think of that was akin to a "beating a dead horse" analogy. Because that's what talking about this has become. Regardless, for Big Ben to have the success needed for a win, the newly shuffled offensive line must perform better than it has. 
The addition of Levi Brown and the promotion of Kelvin Beachum to left tackle needs to coagulate quickly so as to stop the bleeding. Or prevent it if Muhammad Wilkerson has his way.

Get The Ball Rolling - Part of the problem Big Ben and the Steelers have had is the lack of a sustained running game. They are currently last in the NFL in rushing, putting up just 58 yards per game on the ground, and running for just 3.2 yards per carry (28th in NFL). 

Per Pro Football Focus, Big Ben is "last of league's top 32 quarterbacks in percentage of dropbacks that are play-action passes at 12.4%."

That could all be alleviated with the emergence of Le'Veon Bell. He ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, and has generated a bit of a buzz in Steeler Nation.

Bell was used to running behind a bad OLine at Michigan State, one of the reasons why Kevin Colbert drafted him, and had consistent yards-after-contact numbers. Skills he'll definitely need against the Jets' 2nd-ranked run defense. 

Go Deep - Rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton is the only Steelers player ruled out for Sunday because of surgery on his right pinkie finger,

The 6'5", 210-pound Derek Moye will replace Wheaton as the No. 4 wide receiver. He has not dressed the past two games, but he provides Big Ben with a tall receiver. His only catch this season accounted for the Steelers’ only touchdown in a 20-10 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals - a fade for a 1-yard touchdown.

The undrafted free agent is looking forward to getting an opportunity against the Jets.

“Obviously the game’s a whole different scenario," Moye said, "so I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to carry over what I’ve been doing in practice.”

He and the other wide receivers will be doing so against a defense without first-round draft choice Dee Milliner and against an Antonio Cromartie who is on one leg. Taking advantage of their depleted secondary could be a crucial element in securing a win. 

If even three of these four criteria is met, combined with the factors brought out in our article covering the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers might just creep out their first win. 

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TIDBITS: Steelers Injury Report - Out: Wheaton; Probable: Big Ben, H. Miller and R. Foster 

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Pro Football Focus credits the Steelers defense with 17 missed tackles against the Minnesota Vikings. 

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Per Aditi Kinkhabwala, Big Ben was bitter about arriving in London as late as they did which caused fatigue and jet lag. When asked why passing in 2nd half was better than in the 1st, Big Ben said, "You might have to ask the people on the next level up."