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Steelers’ Secondary Has Tough Task Against Dangerous Receivers In 2022

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Steelers’ Secondary Has Tough Task Against Dangerous Receivers In 2022

The secondary for the Pittsburgh Steelers was recently ranked one of the league’s worst by Pro Football Focus headed into the 2022 NFL season. The unit will undergo some change due to the expected departure of veteran cornerback, Joe Haden. However, the defensive backfield did not have a horrible season a year ago ranking in the middle or better in the NFL in statistical categories such as interceptions, first downs allowed via pass and pass yards allowed a game. The upcoming season will be one of Mike Tomlin‘s toughest defending the pass because of the lineup of receivers the Steelers will go up against all season.

 

1.) Ja’Marr Chase And Tee Higgins (x2) – Steelers Week 1 and 11 Opponents

The duo finished with 2,546 yards in 2021 and added 19 touchdowns in the regular season. Joe Burrow is one of the reasons why they were so successful, but a strong rushing attack and their skillsets allowed them to be so dominant. The Steelers struggled more so with Higgins, who did not play in the two teams’ first meeting, but caught six passed for 114 yards and a touchdown in the second matchup. Chase heads into his second year and both wide receivers have another off-season to build their chemistry with Burrow.

Steeler Foes Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon

Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

2.) Stefon Diggs – Steelers Week 5 Matchup

Diggs was certainly involved when these two teams played in Week 1 of the 2021 season and while the star receiver was involved with nine catches, he only had 69 yards and the secondary did a good job keeping him in check. The key to keeping Diggs from having a breakout game is keeping him from the end zone. He has scored 33 touchdowns in the last four regular seasons and has put up multiple two-touchdown performances. We can expect to see Levi Wallace go up against his old teammate and attempt to keep him from hurting the Steelers.

Steelers Levi Wallace

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback, Levi Wallace (#29) practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex during the 2022 minicamp on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Karl Roser/ Pittsburgh Steelers)

3.) Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – Steelers Go Up Against Buccaneers In Week 6

Tom Brady can make any receiver look good, but he makes these two guys look extra good. While Godwin’s status to be ready to go is up in the air due to a torn ACL suffered last December, the challenge of defending both of these guys is tough. Both had over 1,000 yards receiving last season and a combined 19 touchdowns.

The task of going up against them is a bit easier without Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown on the team, but there is no doubt that they can still ruin a defense’s time by themselves. Add Russell Gage to the mix and this could be one of, if not, the best wide receiver trios in all of football. The Steelers will need all hands on deck for this one.

4.) AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith – Steelers Take On Eagles In Week 8

With a bye week following the matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, this won’t be a game to sleep on. Brown was traded over to the Eagles from the Tennessee Titans and has all the tools to be a top five receiver in the NFL. Put Smith on the opposite side and the Eagles have a serious chance to put up numbers in the air if Jalen Hurts comes to play. Brown did not play against the Steelers in 2021 when the Titans came to Heinz Field.

Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The hardest part about this duo isn’t even themselves, but not selling out on the run. Hurts and co. had the most effective run offense last season and the Steelers defense was the worst at stopping it. If the secondary is thinking run first, it is possible they could get beat deep multiple times by these talented wideouts.

 

5.) Davante Adams – Steelers Week 16 Game Vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Welcome to the AFC the best receiver in football. According to StatMuse, Adams has 11 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown against the Steelers in two career games. No one knows if him and new quarterback, Derek Carr, will have as strong a connection as him and Aaron Rodgers, but he is the most gifted wide receiver in the NFL and at times, he can seem impossible to guard.

Adams caught an astonishing 238 passes for 2,927 yards and 29 touchdowns the last two seasons. That is utter dominance and the Steelers are 2-5 against the Raiders in the Tomlin era. Adams has all the ability to make that six losses by himself alone if he has one of his signature games. He, unfortunately, isn’t the only one to worry about as Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are also dangerous weapons for Carr.

 

Oh and don’t forget facing off against Tyreek Hill in Week 7 and a healthy Michael Thomas in Week 10.

 

How do you think the Steelers should matchup against these dominant receivers in 2022? Let us know in the comments below!

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