2016 Steelers Gameday 5: New York Jets


The House That Hines Built
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A week ago, we were all uncertain about the direction the Steelers season would take. Now, after a 60-minute thrashing of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Steelers are off to their first 3-1 start since 2010.

What To Watch For


1. Turnovers

Last week, the Steelers brought the rush on Alex Smith, recording 4 sacks (including 3 by Cam Heyward). Alex Smith entered last week having taken the 3rd most sacks in the league and exited the first quarter of the season as the second most-sacked quarterback. This week, the Steelers will face a different opportunity. Ryan Fitzpatrick has only been sacked 6 times this season but leads the league with 10 interceptions. The Jets as a while lead the league with 13 turnovers through 4 games. The Steelers will have their opportunity to take the ball away and need to pounce. The Steelers defense has produced 2 turnovers in each of their 3 wins and failed to record a takeaway in their only loss. The offense did an excellent job against Kansas City converting turnovers and short fields into points on the scoreboard and need to keep that up against the Jets.

2. Brandon Marshall vs Antonio Brown

The Jets offense is made up of large receivers. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s primary method of getting them the ball is just throwing up jump balls and hoping his receivers come down with them. When you have a guy as talented as Brandon Marshall, that isn’t a bad plan for your offense. Marshall is a big target that is hard to bring down after the catch. Fitzpatrick will force him the ball, which could also give the Steelers opportunities for turnovers. On the other side, Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the league. It remains to be seen whether he will actually draw Darrelle Revis (who may be out with an injury) or one of the Jets other corners. Like Fitzpatrick, Ben trusts AB and will throw him the ball regardless of who is covering him. This game could turn into a battle between these two great receivers for who can make the last big play. On a humorous note, Brandon Marshall said if he scores he will do some kind of twerking dance to honor AB, because the NFL’s rules are ridiculous. Let AB Dance.

3. Injuries

Last week, the Steelers were barely able to put 46 healthy bodies in uniform. This week, they won’t be able to do so without a roster move. On Friday, the team listed 9 players as “out” for the game. On the offensive line Marcus Gilbert, Ryan Harris, and Cody Wallace are out. In the secondary, Senquez Golson remains out, Robert Golden is working his way back from a hamstring injury, and Justin Gilbert is also out with a knee injury suffered this week in practice. Linebacker Ryan Shazier is still out with a knee injury, fullback Roosevelt Nix is out, and WR Eli Rogers is still sidelined with a turf toe injury suffered against Philadelphia. This means that the Steelers will have to make at least one, if not two roster moves in order to be able to put 45 or 46 bodies in uniform on Sunday. The obvious move seems to be bringing OT Matt Feiler up from the practice squad, which likely means waiving (with an injury settlement) or placing on IR either Ryan Harris or Cody Wallace. All signs point to Chris Hubbard starting at right tackle. The good news is that Ramon Foster practiced all week and should be back for this game. Which brings me to…..

4. Steelers OL vs Jets DL

The Steelers are very thin up front right now, which could present some interesting problems against the Jets athletic defensive line. The Jets rank 7th in the league with 11 sacks through 4 games. They are led by former first round pick Leonard Williams who has 4 sacks. Former Steeler Steve McLendon is second with two sacks and Muhammad Wilkerson (who was drafted the pick before Cam Heyward) is third with 1.5. The Jets get most of their pressure from their interior rush in their 3-4 alignment and their defense bears a number of similarities to the Steelers. Their best players are their two defensive linemen and they haven’t gotten much production from their outside linebackers. They have an uber-athletic inside linebacker in Darron Lee, who is basically a Ryan Shazier clone (Lee took over Shazier’s role at Ohio St after Ryan went to the NFL). Their secondary has been a weak point and more people have been able to get off Revis Island this year than got off the Island on LOST. If the Steelers can control the Jets defensive line, Ben Roethlisberger should be in line for a big day against their weak secondary.

5. Do-it-all Running Backs

Matt Forte has put together a very good NFL career and emerged as one of the better dual-threat running backs in the league. Of course, the best one of those lines up in black and gold and wears 26. There are a lot of similarities between Forte and Bell and their abilities as runners between the tackles and as receivers out of the backfield. Last week, the Steelers tried to be a little too cute with Bell early on and stalled some drives by trying to do too many things with too many players. The offense hit a groove once they started getting Bell more reps in the backfield and he got stronger as the game went on. With Eli Rogers out and DHB nursing a shoulder injury, expect Bell to get some more reps as a wide receiver this week as well. The Jets don’t usually line up Forte as a wide receiver, but they will work the screen game and short passing game to get him the ball. This was problematic for the Steelers defense against the Eagles and Forte should be a good test to see if they have turned the corner on defending the short passing game to running backs.

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