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HometownGal
12-15-2007, 08:10 AM
Even without Stroud in there, the Jags DL is one of the biggest and strongest in the league. Our OL had better be on their mark and play their best game this week, especially if Charlie gets the call - we're going to need to control the LOS and get Willie some lanes.

Jaguars will pose big test for Willie Parker

Saturday, December 15, 2007
By Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Matt Freed / Post-Gazette

Willie Parker has struggled to find room to run against Jacksonville.Willie Parker is the NFL's leading rusher and has rushed for more than 80 yards in 10 of the Steelers' 13 games this season. And this is the third consecutive season he has rushed for at least 1,000 yards and, given that he has 1,217 yards with three games to go, he could finish with more than 1,500.

But Parker has struggled to find room to run against Jacksonville (9-4), which visits the Steelers (9-4) tomorrow, and the Steelers' inability to run the ball against the Jaguars has been a big reason they are on a two-game losing streak in this series.

In fact, Parker did not rush for 100 yards in the two games combined and averaged only 2.27 yards per carry.

Parker rushed 11 times for 20 yards in a 9-0 loss to the Jaguars last season and, in 2005, the Jaguars beat the Steelers, 23-17, in overtime. In that game, Parker ran 21 times for 55 yards. More alarming than the actual rushing totals is that Parker's longest run between the two games was 12 yards. Furthermore, he did not score a touchdown in either game.

As a team, the Steelers only rushed for a total of 99 yards in those two games. Clearly, The Jaguars' defense has had their number.

So what's been the Jaguars' secret to stopping Parker and the Steelers' rushing attack?

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said there is no secret -- the Jaguars' defensive front seven is that good.

"Actually when you watch them on film, they are more simplistic than a lot of defenses," Arians said. "They just line up and kick your [behind] and basically say, 'This is what we do, see if you can stop us.' They have big, strong guys in the middle of the line and they run fast and they don't give you much room to run.

"As a team, we have to do a better job of getting them blocked than we have, and then making yards when we finally get an opening."

The running lanes the Steelers have not had against the Jaguars may actually be a little bit easier to find tomorrow than in recent years because Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud (6 feet 6, 310 pounds) injured his ankle Sunday against Carolina and is out for the season. Defensive end Rob Meier (6-5, 308 pounds) will start in Stroud's spot, and he will be backed up by Grady Jackson (6-2, 345).

"I'm really upset to learn that Marcus Stroud won't be playing," joked Arians.

Steelers offensive guard Kendall Simmons said that even though Stroud is a big-time talent and an excellent run-stuffer, the Jaguars have plenty of big bodies to stuff the middle of the line, and he doesn't expect there to be much difference without Stroud. He said the combination of either Meier or Jackson and Pro Bowl defensive tackle John Henderson (6-7, 335) will give the Steelers' offensive line plenty of trouble.

"They don't have Marcus, but they have Grady Jackson who is actually bigger and will be harder to move out of there, and he stuffs the run very well, also," Simmons said. "The bottom line is, between those guys and [Henderson], you basically are going to need three guys to try and block two if you want to have a chance. They are just big guys who move well and they are physical."

Parker, who leads Minnesota's Adrian Peterson by 17 yards and San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson by 22 in the race for the NFL's rushing title, said he remembers what transpired in the Jaguars' game last year, but he downgrades its importance.

The main thing, he said, has been the lack of longer runs mostly because the Jaguars have done a great job of getting to the football and filling the gaps. But he does not buy into any of theories that hold he is incapable of playing the physical style the Jaguars want to play.

"I really am not interested in going back through the history books, what matters now is the game ahead of us," Parker said. "The Jaguars are a tough team, they have a strong front seven, they have done a great job against us, but that doesn't mean we can't get it done.

"We just have to get all of our guys blocking on the same page, we need to step in there and be aggressive, and I know we can be. But this is a challenge, to play against a great defense, and I like challenges. I don't mind if it is a hard-nosed game; those games are fun."

Although Parker is leading the NFL in rushing yards, there is one statistical category where he has taken a significant fall-- touchdowns. Parker has scored only two touchdowns (both rushing) through 13 games -- far off his pace of a year ago when he finished with 16 (13 rushing, 3 receiving).

"I haven't really been a big part of our goal-line package, so that's a part of it," Parker said. "I think every player wants to score more touchdowns, but that's up to our coaches, and we've won a lot of games this year with this formula. "

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07349/841971-66.stm

Galax Steeler
12-15-2007, 08:44 AM
It is going to be a uphill battle with willie trying to run the ball but if we can controll the line of scrimage willlie could have a good game.

RP_McMurphy
12-15-2007, 09:34 AM
This is almost strange to say but the Jaguars might be better without Stroud this year. His ankle had been bothering him all year long and he hadn't brought his A game at all this year. Both he and John Henderson have probably had their worst years ever as Jaguars this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jaguars to invest a first day draft pick on both a DT and DE this next spring.

AFC
12-15-2007, 11:19 AM
Thanks for the read.

I am really nervous about this game. I knew that squeezing out a W against the ?immaculate Pats? would be very tough, and I honestly did not except too much; a loss against said team is psychologically manageable.

The Jags, however, is a different story. An L is not an option, but I can still see us beaten because of the O-line/Parker v. the Jags? D. It is crucial that we establish a running game--but will we be able to? I can see WP running up through the middle gaining an average of two yards per carry or something like that.

Am I being too pessimistic?

Steeldude
12-15-2007, 11:30 AM
i wonder how mahan will do at the point of attack

iupdauber
12-15-2007, 12:11 PM
well, the 2005 game was Maddox mayhem, and the 9-0 loss last year was the ever too early return of Ben from surgery. I am sure with a healthier Ben, they wont shut him down quite as much. Or at least I hope.

Fire Haley
12-15-2007, 12:56 PM
A better title to that article would be "Jaguars To Pose a Big Test For O-line".

Willie can't get going when he's hit in the backfield or on the LOS.
Bounce it outside Willie! Or you're gonna get stuffed.
That's my advice.

FastWillieParker39
12-15-2007, 12:56 PM
well, the 2005 game was Maddox mayhem, and the 9-0 loss last year was the ever too early return of Ben from surgery. I am sure with a healthier Ben, they wont shut him down quite as much. Or at least I hope.

Yep NO excuses if we lose this game. In 05 we had Maddox at QB....nuff said. Last year Ben was CLEARLY not ready to come back. This year everyone seems to be healthy (I know Ben is a little shaken up but he's fine).

We lose this game, and we might've given the division to the Browns.

steelpride12
12-15-2007, 01:11 PM
Its gonna be a tough battle for Willie tom., but it all starts with the o-line they are gonna have to create space and make holes for Parker or its gonna be alot like last year and well lets just say it didn't look to good for Parker!

HometownGal
12-15-2007, 01:13 PM
well, the 2005 game was Maddox mayhem, and the 9-0 loss last year was the ever too early return of Ben from surgery. I am sure with a healthier Ben, they wont shut him down quite as much. Or at least I hope.

The problem is - though Ben is healthier this season than he was the last time we played the Jags, he is still listed as "questionable" on the team's injury report with the shoulder problem. I don't know how comfy I feel with Charlie back there against the Jags big, strong D. :horror: If the Steelers had a better OL, I wouldn't be as concerned, but with Charlie's history of happy feet, I'm admittedly a bit nervous.

The Duke
12-15-2007, 01:38 PM
i wonder how mahan will do at the point of attack

i'll be happy if he just doesn't fall on his ass like he's done consistently :dang:

revefsreleets
12-15-2007, 07:45 PM
The Steelers are going to come out passing for this game, and they should. Jax ranks 5th against the run and 27th against the pass. We're at home. Santo and Ward will play. I don't think it even matters if Ben starts or not. The gameplan will be to pass, and it's the right plan. I just pray that the OL blocks, or we will have to hear every nincompoop from here to Timbuktu crying about how "We should have run".

Jman
12-15-2007, 07:52 PM
The Steelers are going to come out passing for this game, and they should.

:iagree:

I believe they should use the pass to set up the run. Should open things up for Willie.

revefsreleets
12-15-2007, 07:57 PM
My thoughts exactly. I left Parker in for that very reason on my fantasy team, and it's the playoffs and I have some (superficially) options that are much more appealing. I think we are gonna come out winging the ball and that will open up running lanes for Parker. The Pats loss will be the final wake-up call for these Steelers.

Jman
12-15-2007, 08:04 PM
I think we are gonna come out winging the ball and that will open up running lanes for Parker. The Pats loss will be the final wake-up call for these Steelers.

I am really hoping so. :thumbsup:

Davison_K
12-16-2007, 12:09 AM
It was ugly against the Jags last year. Their DTs are huge and it honestly looked like they were going to kill Willie. I hope FWP can avoid them and have a great game. I would love to see him win the rushing title. Hopefully Pittsburgh can win this game for me so that they won the last game of the season I will be able to watch.