Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bloggers Roundtable: Jets Edition

For the third week in a row, Steelers Bloggers stepped up in what is becoming a great pre-game discussion segment.

This week, I am once again joined by Cotter from One For The Other Thumb and Cory from Three Rivers Burgh Blog.

As always, there is a poll at the bottom of the post, so let us know what you think!

What do the Steelers have to do to win?

In short, keep the Jets out of the end zone. The Jets might have the best corner tandem in the league, but their safeties suck. The Steelers can exploit their defense if Ben gets the time to go long. The Jets have been playing to the level of their competition all year, barely beating bad teams like the Lions, Broncos and Browns. Mark Sanchez sucks in the cold and the Jets will lean heavily on their running game. If the Steelers can keep the Jets out of the end zone and hold them to field goals, there should be no reason why we can't win this game.

For me it is simple for the Steelers, make Mark Sanchez beat you. You first take the run away and say “beat us”. He won’t be able to do it. As I said in my preview Mark Sanchez is very poor when playing in cold weathers (under 40 degrees) and it is going to be cold and blustery at Heinz Field on Sunday. Once we make them one dimentional (hopefully by the second quarter) you have James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley pin their ears back and tell them to go eat. Making Sanchez sling the ball around is going to bode very well for the Steelers and I think Dick LeBeau is going to have something for Mark when we take away the run for good.

If there’s a team against which “stop the run, make the QB beat you” is a better strategy, I’m not aware of it. The Jets have lived and died by the run this season, and Mark Sanchez has thrown at least one pick in each of the last EIGHT games (he has thrown multiple picks in three of them). Put it this way, I mentioned this in my preview, but he has a completion percentage of 53. Almost HALF of his passes are not connecting, which is shameful enough in and of itself, but couple that with the fact that he checks down every other play and that makes it even more sickening. Stop the run, decapitate Mark Sanchez. 

What player on the Jets scares you the most?

Darrelle Revis. He's the second best cornerback in the league and can easily take Mike Wallace out of the game. While Wallace as great at locating the ball and going up and getting it, Revis might be even better on the other side of the ball. As Tomlin said in his press conference this week, "We don't have a lot of game film on him because no one throws the ball his way."

It might seem strange to say this but I am not very happy seeing Brad Smith across the field. He lines up in the wildcat and returns kicks for the Jets and he is dynamic. The special teams unit has shown some weakness in the past couple of games and all it takes is one missed tackle for Smith to be gone to the races. I am not really as scared with him running the wildcat because I think the Steelers have done a much better this job stopping the wildcat when it has been presented but returners have killed us over the years. In a tight game one special teams gaffe could be the difference. This game will be tight so the coverage units need to be good this week.

I almost wanna say Brad Smith, but I guess I should give their defense more credit. I guess I’ll have to say Revis, since anyone who isn’t afraid of Revis probably has their head permanently affixed up their ass. Or they’re Darrelle Revis himself.

What Steelers player are you looking for to have a big game?

LaMarr Woodley. Starting RT Damien Woody went on IR this week, and whoever his backup is will have his hands full with Woodley this week after LaMarr's monster week last week. Luckily for his replacement, the refs probably won't call holding on anyone wearing green on Sunday. That said, Dirty Sanchez is susceptible to pressure in the pocket and turning the ball over.

Hines Ward. Ward had a huge game last week without much fan fare. Eight catches was a season high for him and since Mr. Revis is going to be worried about Mike Wallace I really think Hines can pick his match up and get behind the linebackers and make it a long day for the Jets secondary. It would be easy to say that they could just give help on Ward, but with the emergence of Manny Sanders and A. Brown I think they will have to be a little more honest since Manny and Brown both have great speed. Look for Hines Ward to have a big day, especially in the red zone. The Steelers need to get back to what they do in the red zone, which is Hines Ward and Heath Miller. Watch for it.

Ryan Mundy. No, just kidding, although if he does have a big game filling in for Troy (assuming Troy doesn’t play), they should take him out to Chuck E. Cheese or something. I’ll go LaMarr Woodley this week. Without their starting RT, the right side of the Jets line is vulnerable. If Woodley can nab two sacks on Carson Palmer behind a healthy O-line, imagine what he can do to Mark Sanchez. Put it this way, the Jets might wanna get a eulogy ready, and wake up Mark Brunell.

What match up do you think we can exploit?

Emmanuel Sanders on whoever the Jets put on him. As I said earlier, Revis and Cromartie are solid corners. Revis will probably be all over Mike Wallace. Cromartie is a physical corner that likes to play press coverage, something Hines Ward struggles against. However, the Jets aren't very deep in the secondary meaning our tertiary options in the passing game (Sanders, Brown, and Randle El) will have opportunities to get open and make plays. 

I think I pretty much just touched on it in the question before, but to expand it a little more, I think the Steelers must be able to bring formation out that get Brown, Sanders and/or Ward matched up with the Jets linebackers. That is a recipe for success if you ask me. Even if you can get safeties on those players I think that can be a huge win for the Steelers.

The Jets safeties on anyone. Neither of the Jets’ typical starting safeties will be in uniform this week, and one of their backups might not even play. Anytime you get a team down to its last healthy body at two positions, you have to be able to take advantage of that. Also, Mike Wallace’s legs vs. Revis. I’m not altogether sure we can EXPLOIT that matchup, but I’m really interested to see if Wallace can handle Revis.

Biggest underlying story in the game?

While the media will be all about the "Holmescoming" (yes, I just made that pun, and yes I know it was terrible). But in reality, this game is about the Steelers clinching a playoff spot and if the Saints can keep doing what they've been doing and beat the Ravens, have a shot at clinching the division. In fact, the Steelers could wrap up a first round bye this weekend if all the pieces fall into place, which would be great because it would enable us to give some of our banged up players some rest if we can bury a bad Carolina team early on Thursday.

Um, nobody is talking about the Steelers being able to clinch a FIRST ROUND BYE with a win. With players banged up this is a massive story that we can follow. The fallout from a win is huge. Troy can rest more, Ben can get some rest if needed, Aaron Smith can focus on the playoffs instead of trying to come back for the Browns game in order to get the bye on the last week. Sure people are going to be talking about Santonio Holmes coming back but in my opinion this isn’t as big as some media pundits are making. It is what it is. I will be at the game on Sunday and I will be cheering for Tone before the game and I will not boo him during the game. No reason to. The bigger issue is taking care of business. Before the game most people will have a good idea of what the deal is since most of the games the Steelers need results in are playing at one so it should be pretty electric in Heinz Field as those scores come in.

The obvious story is - will either team escape their offensive ineptitude this week (although for the Steelers, it’s really scoring ineptitude)? I don’t envy either offense, given that both the Steelers and Jets defenses are top 5 in the NFL. But, the Steelers problem hasn’t been offensive production; just points production. So, I think they break the cycle this weekend. If not, I change my biggest underlying story to – how many points will the Steelers defense score? 

Final Score?

The Jets have a good defense and I honestly don't see our offense coming out of their funk. That said, I think Suisham continues to stay on a roll and he'll carry the Steelers to another victory. Steelers 16, Jets 10

I, for one, think that the Steelers should get this game. The Jets have only beat one team that is above .500 this year and Mark Sanchez is pretty average. If the Steelers defense comes out and stuffs the run and they can get the first score or two I think the Jets will start to rely on the pass and that is huge for the Steelers. The Jets defense is good and the Steelers offense hasn’t been great, or even good, lately but Ben Roethlisberger is a winner. No matter what he can put this team on his back and get a win and I like my chances with that. Steelers 20, Jets 10

Steelers – 20, Jets – 10? Honestly, who cares as long as the Steelers score more points than the Jets?

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