View Full Version : Steelers defense presents problems for Patriots

11-26-2008, 11:32 AM
Steelers defense presents problems for Patriots
Tough nut to crack
By John Tomase | Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots

Scanning the list of the Steelers’ defensive rankings resembles binary code, minus the zeros.

Ones stretch practically clear across the page: Passing defense. Rushing defense. Scoring. Yards per play. Yards per game. Yards on first down. Red zone efficiency. Sacks (in the AFC, at least).

With all due respect to the 10-1 Titans, the Steelers own the best defense in the league, and they’ll bring it to Foxboro on Sunday.

“Nobody has gotten 300 yards against them and about half of their possessions are three-and-out,” said Patriots [team stats] coach Bill Belichick. “They’re really solid across the board. It’s no one-man band. They’re good at everything.”

The Pats are coming off back-to-back games with over 500 yards of offense, a first in franchise history. Quarterback Matt Cassel became just the fifth QB ever to reach 400 yards passing in consecutive games. The Pats are chucking the ball all over the field.

If they expect to come out and do the same against the Steelers, they’ve got another thing coming. Just ask Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. His team lost to the Steelers, 38-17, in a game that wasn’t even remotely that close. Pittsburgh led 21-0 early in the second quarter on the strength of two interceptions.

Forced to be one-dimensional and throw, the Texans took their medicine. Matt Schaub was sacked five times, and they didn’t score a touchdown until it was 35-3 in the fourth.

Shanahan saw the Pats spread the field the last two weeks, but he’s not sure that approach will work.

“It would be interesting to see if they could do it,” he said yesterday from his office. “I’d like to watch. It’s certainly a hard way to beat Pittsburgh.”

The problem comes to one word: pressure.

“Eventually they’ll end up getting you with their pressure packages,” Shanahan said. “And their coverage is so good. When you play a heavy blitz team, usually their coverage is weaker, but Pittsburgh is the exception. They’re a blitzing team that can cover.”

When the Steelers blitz, they bring outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, who have combined for 22.5 sacks, the most of any tandem in the league. With these two, it’s not even about the element of surprise.

“It’s not like they change their blitzes every week,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “They run a lot of the same blitzes over and over. Even if you have a guy assigned to block, you still have to stand in there and block who’s coming. They’re not going to stop. They run through you. They run around you. They get a number of sacks when you actually have enough people to block them but you just can’t block them long enough.”

Part of the problem of accounting for those outside guys is what it means to the middle of the offensive line, particularly the center.

“If you want to fan your guard and tackles out to protect against them coming off the edge, you’re going to leave your center on an island with Casey Hampton, who’s such a big nose guard,” Shanahan said. “There are only so many ways to block the 3-4, and they’re great at recognizing your protections and adjusting off of that. They’re going to watch the center. If he’s turning, they’re going to get the big guys on his back. If you’re fanning out the tackles, they’re going to cross-dog blitz up the middle.”

In Shanahan’s mind, the only way to attack the Steelers is with a balance between run and pass, because if the Steelers can eliminate the former, it’s going to be a long day.

“If it’s third down and you can’t run, they’ll have guys running all over and it’s hard to see what’s coming,” he said. “Next thing you know, someone’s coming free unblocked and killing the quarterback from the back side.”

There’s no question the Patriots have their work cut out for them, because the next offense to move the ball against the Steelers will be the first.

“They kicked our (butt), straight up,” Shanahan said. “They whupped us.”
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/football/patriots/view.bg?articleid=1134992

11-26-2008, 12:07 PM
Last year we were getting to Brady a split second too late. Hopefully the difference this time will be the speed of Timmons (inside and in coverage) and Woodley (off the edge).

I'm curious to see if we've saved (defensive scheme) anything special for this game.

Dino 6 Rings
11-26-2008, 12:15 PM
I don't think we've saved anything specifically for this game. I'd guess that Dick has planned special blitzes to attack the Patriots up the middle more to counter the quick passing of the QB in a shotgun.

Quickest way to the QB, especially in the Shotgun is right up the middle. I anticipate a few stunts where Woodley or Harrison actually go inside one of the DE's to attack the interior.

11-26-2008, 01:32 PM
It seems to me that Silverback has been dropping into coverage on a more consistent basis, than at the beginning of the season. Am very curios to see what our plan and adaptation is this Sunday.

Any news on Light and his playing status after that fight vs Miami?

11-26-2008, 05:42 PM
To me the key will not be LeBeaus scheme, but will be having Troy, Aaron Smith and Clark healthy for the game. Those 3 players will be big this time around, plus Woodley is now starting and we are getting McFadden back. The only other thing I ask is for Timmons to get a lot of playing time. He can be a difference maker too.

11-26-2008, 06:59 PM
I'm just afraid of the "dink and dunk" seems we do not play well against this. I'm sure we will game plan around this.

As with any NFL game getting to the QB will be very important.

11-26-2008, 08:36 PM
They were pretty good at keeping Peezy away from the QB when they played against the Dolphins last time. So anything is expected.

11-26-2008, 10:54 PM
yeah but porter is just a one-move guy. i have no worries that silverback will find a way to bull rush, juke, or otherwise get to Cassel this week

The Duke
11-27-2008, 12:40 AM
yeah but porter is just a one-move guy. i have no worries that silverback will find a way to bull rush, juke, or otherwise get to Cassel this week

Unless they decide to drop him into coverage, something he's proven he can do lately

Cassel won't break 200 yards :tt:

11-27-2008, 10:38 AM
also harrison gets a lot of help from woodly and the other lb's... and our d-line is better than the dolphins

11-27-2008, 08:16 PM
I find it hard to believe that a healthy Troy, Ryan Aaron can't make a big time difference on Sunday. I also have to believe that LeBeau won't scheme up something good for Cassel.