All-22 Breakdown Jets-Steelers: Defense
After watching the Steelers-Broncos game I expected the Steelers to come out with quick short passes and they started their first two drives off with receiver screens. On the first drive the screen to Brown went for an easy eight, on the next play Bart Scott made a great read bursting through the hole and hitting Redman in the backfield, Scott couldn’t finish the tackle though, I know you’ve heard that before, but his teammates were there to clean up and bring Redman down for a eight yard loss. On third-and-10 the Steelers ran an end-round to Brown for an easy 10 and a first down. Sione Po’uha came through with a big time run stuff on the next play, great initial stop then grabbed Redman’s jersey to spin him down. The next play is where the cracks in the defense start to show.
Steelers ran play-action with Cromartie in tight coverage on Wallace with help from Landry over the top, Wallace hit a sharp curl and Cromartie kept running past him leaving Wallace open to make the easy uncontested catch. As you know, we’ll see a similar and more impactful mistake from Cromartie later in the game.
The next play is a blown coverage on McIntyre. Steelers lined up with two tight ends on the left (Will Johnson is really a fullback, but lined up as tight end here), with McIntyre lined up as the outside linebacker. McIntyre stepped up to play the run and let Johnson run right past him wide open down the sidelines as McIntyre dropped back into coverage to triple team the inside tight end Miller. Johnson picked up an easy 26 yards. But three plays later McIntyre came through with a big sack to hold the Steelers to a field goal.
On third-and-seven the Steelers lined up with two receivers, one on each side, two tight ends on the left, Roethlisberger in shotgun and the running back next to him. McIntyre lined up with his hand in the dirt as the left defensive end with DeMario Davis standing up, on McIntyre’s outside, as the outside linebacker and Wilkerson on the inside. At the snap, Wilkerson and McIntyre switch. McIntyre bulldozed over center Maurkice Pouncey knocking him right on his butt and kept pushing inside. Davis burned around the edge of the right tackle, forcing Roethlisberger to step up in the pocket, but then Wilkerson came free causing Roethlisberger to slide up further and McIntyre finished the play by sweeping the leg.
On that play the Jets lined up six defenders on the line and brought five. Landry dropped back in coverage and the other five all applied excellent pressure. This is what I expected most of the game to be like with the Steelers o-line in the shape it is. It’s the only way to successfully blitz Roethlisberger. The pressure has to come from every angle, if it’s just from the middle he’ll roll out of the pocket and if it’s just the edge or even edges he’ll step up and in both those scenarios he finds the open receiver way more often than he doesn’t.
I already rehashed the touchdown to Wallace where Cromartie ran past him in the end zone and didn’t even attempt to knock him out of bounds, no need to delve into that again, but the Jets obviously missed Revis and it showed by how conservative they were on defense. They tried as much as they could to just send four pass rushers, but that didn’t work as well as they hoped and even when it did Roethlisberger repeatedly found a way to escape. But it was the soft coverage in the secondary that allowed Ben to pick the Jets defense apart underneath. You always have to respect the deep threat ability of the Steelers but, here’s that hindsight thing again, it appeared the Jets respected it too much as they got caught cheating deep too many times. For the most part the coverage was good, they just played too deep and Roethlisberger made plays.
Once again tackling was an issue, I thought the linebackers, mainly Harris and Scott were horrible when I watched the game live, I was wrong. They both made some really bad plays, plays that can’t keep happening, but they also made a bunch of good reads, hits behind the line and had good blitzes, they just couldn’t finish which is a common story when facing Roethlisberger. Maybin however still failed to do anything positive worth noting, no horrible blown plays either he was just out there not doing much of anything good or bad, which of course is not good.
The good news? DeMario Davis made some impactful plays with the small amount of snaps he saw, showed great speed and looks like he could have an immediate impact for this defense, Harris and Scott weren’t as bad as I first thought but they weren’t good enough to make me think Davis shouldn’t get more playing time.
McIntyre however had the best day on the defense. I didn’t notice it live, the bad plays stuck out to me more and I noticed the great plays he made late but the early ones not so much and that’s what’s great about film review. When I went back, I saw the bad coverage and bad angle here or there, but I saw McIntyre making a lot of things happen. He certainly looks to be more effective as a defensive end with his hand in the dirt, really good burst and strong at the point of attack with some good wiggle to work around blockers, he struggles in coverage but is a good run defender and showed he can apply pressure as a defensive end. McIntyre got so much playing time due to the injury of Bryan Thomas and I’m thinking he should continue to see that playing time even when Thomas returns. Thomas is good in the run game, but also struggles in coverage and doesn’t apply much pressure. It’s only one game so we’ll have to see if McIntyre can keep it up, but he earned a chance to try and prove that he can.
This game was closer than it felt watching live. Right before the Steelers scored the first touchdown to go up 13-10 I turned to my friends and said if the Steelers score a touchdown here this game is over. Seemed premature, but I could tell by how things settled the Steelers were getting into a rhythm offensively and they figured out how to stop the Jets offense. So by halftime I thought the game was out of reach, it certainly wasn’t, there were just a handful of plays that made the difference. Some of them mistakes, some bad execution and a little bad luck but this game wasn’t complete domination. In fact both teams played remarkably similar games, it simply came down to the fact that Roethlisberger made more plays than Sanchez.
The Jets had their share of breakdowns, plenty of things need to get cleaned up and improve and they can take a lot from this game, but I really feel like we aren’t talking about Roethlisberger’s play enough, he was outstanding and easily the difference in this game.
Writer’s note: I’m not good with technological stuff, I just don’t have enough patience to figure some things out. So I haven’t figured out how to transfer the pictures with the telestrator app from my iPad into these articles, I thought having a Mac was supposed to make these things easy, but again this isn’t my area of expertise and I long ago made my peace with this reality. I’ll figure it out this weekend, or have someone teach me and future All-22 articles will have them. In the meantime I will tweet out some of my draw ups and explanations for the what happened on those plays later tonight and/or tomorrow early afternoon before the good college football games start. Follow me at @Cnimbley if you care to.