STEELERS – JETS FIVE OBSERVATIONS
1. The Steelers were the superior team Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field and they had the superior player at quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, the biggest difference in the game.
What became evident again yesterday is that this team is going to go as far as Ben Roethlisberger can them with his arm. The Steelers offensive line is still not any good, Willie Colon is not an upgrade at left guard right now, and they can’t run the ball, averaging 2.4 yards per carry and 9 of the 66 rushing yards came on an end around from wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Although I like what Jonathan Dwyer brings to the table in his ability to get to the hole quicker than Isaac Redman, the Steelers running backs combined to average just a putrid 2.1 yards per carry. The only plus was gaining 29 yards on seven carries on the Steelers 14 play 4th quarter drive against a worn out Jets defense.
This offense is succeeding through two games in spite of offensive coordinator Todd Haley and because of Ben Roethlisberger and the wide receiver group. What a surprise.
The issue I’ve had with Haley so far has been his play calling in the first half where a conservative game plan of trying to implement the run led to several third and long’s for the second straight game. Pittsburgh had negative rushing yards on four of their first seven rushes from running backs and Pittsburgh’s first six third downs of the game were 3rd and 9, 3rd and 7, 3rd and 8, 3rd and 4, 3rd and 10, and 3rd and 9. That is dangerous territory if the Steelers continue that trend.
Haley needs to start coming out with a more aggressive game plan in the first half and he should never take the ball out of Roethlisberger’s hands like he did on the Steelers second offensive possession on a 3rd and 4 at the Jets 26 yard line that resulted in a Chris Rainey run for negative -1 yard. That’s not to say Haley hasn’t implemented some good things as the quick passing game is a good thing for this offense but not as a major part of the team’s offensive philosophy that Haley seeks.
2. The Steelers have prioritized drafting big cornerbacks since 2009 and the Steelers size at cornerback certainly caught Rex Ryan’s eyes yesterday. “They did a great job of press coverage and we knew that was going to be a challenge,” Ryan said. “These guys have really big, physical corners, and they did a great job of being physical with us.” The Steelers are built at cornerback with Ike Taylor (6-2, 195), Keenan Lewis (6-0, 208), Cortez Allen (6-1, 198) to be more physical and aggressive than defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau normally lets them be and LeBeau might be seeing the light as he employed the Steelers corners to play press coverage and jam at the line of scrimmage against New York after they were burned by the Jets on their first drive. Something LeBeau has to continue to employ moving forward but we’ll see if that happens.
3. Well Lawrence Timmons didn’t have much impact from a statistical standpoint vs Jets, Timmons helmet to helmet hit on Mark Sanchez when Sanchez roamed outside the pocket and got nailed by Timmons who got called for a personal foul, is viewed by some as a turning point in the game. Sanchez just never seemed to be the same after that hit.
4. Did the Jets coaches over think by not going to Tim Tebow more after the success Tebow had against Pittsburgh last season? Many feel they did and Jets writers contend that the offensive coordinator Tony Sparano doesn’t trust Tebow but Mark Sanchez’s strong play early on likely took New York away from employing Tebow before the first half.
5. The Steelers have found a special teams standout in DeMarcus Van Dyke. The young corner can fly and is one of those special teams players who has a knack for the ball.