Steelers at Jaguars: 3 Things to Keep an Eye On

nytimes.com

By: CJ Lester, @CJLester58
SteelerNation.com

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to stack wins this season and last week was no different. The Steelers are now 9-0 on the season after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 36-10 last Sunday. As he has all season, QB Ben Roethlisberger was able to spread the ball around to a variety of playmakers. Roethlisberger completed 27 of his 46 passes, throwing for 333 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Roethlisberger completed at least 2 passes to 7 different receivers on the day. WR Diontae Johnson played arguably his best game yet as an NFL receiver. Johnson finished the game with 6 receptions for 116 yards and 1 touchdown. This week, the Steelers are back on the road as they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Before we dive into what to keep an eye on for this week’s matchup against the Jaguars, let’s review last week’s game against the Bengals!

 

Last week in review

The three things I noted that we should keep an eye on last week were:

 

  1. Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL!

The Steelers defense welcomed Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow with open arms and sacks in mind. The Steelers were able to get to the QB 4 times on Sunday, and they were able to put pressure on the rookie all game long. In addition to sacking the QB 4 times, the Steelers defense racked up 9 QB hits and 28 pressures. Burrow didn’t really have a lot of time to make reads and get the ball out accurately. Burrow completed 21 of his 40 passes for 213 yards and 1 touchdown. The Steelers were unable to force Burrow into any turnovers, but the defense and special teams units combined to force 2 fumbles from Burrow’s teammates and the Steelers recovered both. Like most quarterbacks this defense has faced this season, Burrow felt their presence. The Steelers defense forced Burrow into making bad decisions and forced incompletions. Despite the Bengals record, Burrow has played quite well this season, but the Steelers were able to hold Burrow to nearly 80 yards under his passing yards per game average. Burrow is completing a little over 65% of his passes on the season, but last week Burrow only completed 53%.

  1. Welcome Back, Tyson Alualu!

Last week, the Steelers defense welcomed back DT Tyson Alualu. Every Steeler fan knows how important Alualu has been to this defense this year and we felt his absence against the Baltimore Ravens and the Dallas Cowboys, especially in the run game. In his two-week absence, the Steelers defense gave up 409 yards rushing. Alualu was back and the Steelers held the Bengals to just 139 yards on the ground. 39 of those rushing yards came on just one play, a fake punt ran by S Shawn Williams. The Bengals only ran the ball on 34% of their offensive plays. Expect Alualu to make a bigger impact as the team plays more run heavy offenses.

  1. James Conner due for a Big Day

Last week, I wanted to keep an eye on RB James Conner, as I expected him to have a big day against the NFL’s 29th ranked run defense. My thoughts were that the Steelers were going to come in and establish the run against the Bengals, but the team had other plans. Conner only carried the ball 13 times for 36 yards on Sunday. The team threw the ball 46 times while lining up in 4 and 5 wide receiver sets the majority of the time. With the great amount of success this team had on offense coming out in 5 wide sets, why change? Keep in mind, this isn’t your father or grandfather’s Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a passing league and if the Steelers can continue to attack teams through the air, keep coming out in pass heavy formations and exploiting defenses!

 

Let’s take a look at 3 things we should watch for in Week 11 against the Jaguars:

 

  1. Again, Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL!

For the second week in a row, the Steelers defense is taking on a rookie QB. Last week, it was the 2020 1st overall pick. This week, it will be the Jaguars 2020 6th round selection, QB Jake Luton. In recent history, the Steelers have played well against rookie quarterbacks. The team holds a 25-4 record against rookie quarterbacks since 2004. Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the statistic in a press conference last week and responded, “I’d imagine that everybody’s record is generally pretty good versus rookie quarterbacks.” Tomlin is probably right, but the Steelers just have a way of welcoming rookie quarterbacks to the NFL in a beautiful way. Look for the Steelers to make Luton’s Sunday afternoon absolutely miserable with a high percentage of blitzes. The team has the ability to disguise coverages and get pressure in order to force quarterbacks into making bad decisions, especially young inexperienced quarterbacks.

  1. Create Turnovers, don’t let the Jaguars Control the Tempo!

The Jaguars are going to come into Sunday’s matchup and try to control the game’s tempo. They are going to want to keep the Steelers offense off the field as long as they can. The Steelers cannot allow the Jaguars to control the tempo. The best way to stop a team from trying to control the temp is to force turnovers to put the ball back in your offense’s hands. The Jaguars offense is led by undrafted rookie RB, James Robinson, who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry on the season. If the Steelers allow the Jaguars to run the ball and chew up clock, the game will be competitive. The Steelers have forced 17 turnovers this season, good enough to be tied for 1st in the league. Look for the Steelers defense to jump routes or rip the ball away every chance they get!

  1. Special Teams Unit Play Disciplined

When a team is a heavy underdog, they tend to look to get big plays on special teams. The Steelers special teams unit needs to stay disciplined as they have given up some big plays on special teams a couple of times the past few weeks. Just to remind you, the Steelers gave up a big punt return to the Cowboys and just last week, the Bengals ran a fake punt to gain 36 yards and a first down. The Jaguars had success last week against the Green Bay Packers on special teams. WR Keelan Cole Sr. returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown. The last thing the Steelers want is for the Jaguars to gain momentum in any way and special teams play sometimes gives a team a spark. The Steelers will need to avoid giving up big plays in the return game and stay disciplined in all aspects of special teams play.

 

 

What do you think, Steeler Nation? What should we watch for in Week 11 against the Jaguars? Sound off in the comment section below, or on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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