Week 3 of the NFL season is almost upon us, and what we typically see at this point in the year is that teams are starting to “figure it out” so to speak. Their offensive and defensive schemes are starting to level off, the bugs are getting worked out, and all the work they put in during training camp and the preseason start to really show itself. This makes preparation for each game even more challenging.
So, with the Pittsburgh Steelers headed to the west coast this Sunday to take on the Oakland Raiders, they need every advantage they can get. I admit, the Raiders have not looked great, but coming off a big home win, traveling across country, probably still shorthanded, it’s a classic trap game. So of course, if you can find a way to get an advantage, you do it, and the Steelers have that in the form of new Steelers cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.
How is he a secret weapon you ask? Well it’s not his coverage skills, as he’s not playing in any defensive sets that I know of. He has been solid on special teams, mainly due to his phenomenal speed, but that’s not it either. It’s based on the fact that Van Dyke was a Raider up until final cuts this preseason.
If you look at it from a strategy perspective, Van Dyke was involved in game planning through the entirety of training camp and nearly every day of preseason. He knows the calls, the reads, the schemes, and he knows down and distance tendencies. It’s like pulling a Belichick and videotaping practices but just in his head. If I am the Steelers coaching staff, I have him in as many meetings as possible in a consultant role.
And to be quite honest, if I were a head coach, I’d do this every year. Once final cuts are made, you scour the waiver wire. Everyone knows you have 4 or 5 guys on the back end of the roster who will have minimal impact on the team. You circle the 4 or 5 games you need to win the most, and find some of their last round of cuts that fit the bill for you, bring them in and pluck their brains dry.
Will we see the “Van Dyke” effect this weekend for the Steelers? Come find me on twitter @nfldraftboard and tell me if you think the Steelers should use Van Dyke for information or is that crossing the line.