Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin called Sunday’s matchup against the 3-2 Miami Dolphins a big week for his football team as the Steelers enter a tough four game stretch that includes three straight road games starting this Sunday.
Tomlin on the Dolphins Offense
*Tomlin pointed out the Dolphins being 49.3% on 3rd downs and being a dominate time of possession team and said for the Steelers defense it’s starts with slowing down the Dolphins running game.
Miami is a threat in the running game with two No. 1 running backs in Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.
Brown leads the Dolphins with 299 rushing yards ( 1TD, 4.3 yards per carry) and Williams has rushed for 240 yards (4.5 yards per carry) on the season.
Both bring different attributes to the table with Brown more of the home run threat but Williams remains a hard runner with excellent speed and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
The Dolphins dominant running game puts Miami in manageable third down situations which is why limiting Brown and Williams is the primary focus for Pittsburgh.
Tomlin called Brown the more serious threat due to his ability in the wildcat, calling Brown a different type of runner than others who run the wildcat because he is an “actual runner.”
Meanwhile, the Steelers secondary possibly faces their biggest test of the season with the Dolphins 1-2 punch at wide receiver with Brandon Marshall (37 REC – 467 Yards – 1 TD) and slot receiver Davone Bess (26 REC – 282 Yards – 2TD).
“Brandon Marshall, Central Florida guy, perennial pro bowler, ” Tomlin said. Marshall (6-4, 230lbs) has a unique blend of size and skill but what makes him “unique” is his ability after the catch according to Tomlin. “He has little man quickness, ” Tomlin said.
In two career games against Pittsburgh while with the Denver Broncos, Marshall has been a factor. Marshall has a combined 17 receptions for 189 yards and 0 touchdowns in his career against Pittsburgh.
Against the Steelers last year in a Steelers 28-10 vctory over the Broncos, Marshall had 11 receptions for 112 yards in the loss for Denver.
In 2007, Marshall had 6 receptions for 77 yards in a 31-28 win over Pittsburgh in week 7.
Where the Steelers will also look to have success is against quarterback Chad Henne who has thrown for 7 touchdowns and 1,195 yards through five games.
Henne has big play weapons around him but is still growing as a quarterback and is prone to mistakes.
He has 5 interceptions on the season and has been sacked 9 times.
Steelers made a play to sign Cameron Wake
Tomlin called the Dolphins linebacker group “note worthy” and says the group starts with pro bowl linebacker Karlos Dansby.
Another player emerging among the group is former CFL player Cameron Wake who played at Penn State.
Wake has been a dynamic playmaker on the pass rush, leading the Dolphins with 6 sacks on the season.
Tomlin said Wake is emerging as a pro bowl player and that the Steelers pursued him two years ago.
“We pursued him {Cameron Wake}, ” Tomlin said. When asked if the Steelers were close to signing him, Tomlin said, “Not close enough, he’s a Dolphin.
In the Dolphins secondary, Tomlin had high praise for 2nd year Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis. Tomlin called Davis’s emergence as a major reason the Dolphins could pose Pittsburgh’s passing game some problems. “Not many holes in his {Vontae Davis} game to speak of, ” Tomlin said.
“We have our hands full there, ” Tomlin said.