Last week was huge for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Getting a big win against a division rival had to give them a big boost of confidenc, but in the NFL you have to have a short memory. On some level, they must put the highs of last week behind them, because this weekend they have to deal with an entirely different animal as Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins come to town. Facing a quarterback who brings a different element to the game is difficult to prepare for, and very difficult to stop. What can the Steelers do to win?
When the Steelers are on offense-Last weekend the Steelers found a running game as Johnathan Dwyer found a rhythm and really started pounding the football. This gave the Steelers a much more balanced attack. Much of that goes to the offensive line, who really stepped up and played well against a very good defensive line. This weekend there are no breaks as the Redskins defense is stout against the run. But their pass offense has struggled, so I am looking for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the talented Steelers wide outs to exploit that early and often. Rather than force the run game, they should let it come to them more naturally once the Redskins defense is softened up with the passing game. The Redskins are going to probably give a little in the run game to protect from the deep pass. It’s going to be a game of pick-their-poison I think, as the Steelers showed last week they aren’t afraid to do either.
When the Steelers are on defense-It’s going to be all about stopping Griffin III. The Redskins coaching staff have done an excellent job in melding an NFL offense with many elements of what Griffin III did at Baylor. This poses a real problem for a defense because it’s not something you see on a regular basis and while you do your best to simulate it with your scout team, it’s as much about averting resources to it as it is stopping it. Every rep the Steelers defense uses in practice to defend the zone read is a rep they can’t practice defending the regular set. The Redskins are going to want to run it. Between RGIII and the running backs they can move it on the ground. The Steelers were stout up front last week, but they tend to get themselves out of position, and against a running quarterback all it will take is an end getting lured inside and RGIII is gone. Defending the Redskins is going to take good assignment football, not trying to do too much, and playing within themselves. I would blitz off the edges when they are in man, always have a spy on RGIII but primarily I’d run zone and make sure he doesn’t get the Steelers defense with their backs turned where he can take off.
Player to watch-Steelers-Linebacker Lawrence Timmons. More than likely Timmons will be the spy on RGIII and might be the only guy on the defense who can run with him. Timmons is so fast working down the line of scrimmage I think he’s going to have to have a big game if the Steelers want to win.
Player to watch-Redskins-Griffin III. It’s cliche, I know, but with his two favorite receiving targets out, it’s going to fall firmly on his shoulders to win this game. Even when he’s handing it off to running back Alfred Morris, his ability to force the Steelers defense to commit and allow Morris to make a play will be vital.
X-Factor-Weather-There’s a good chance there will be rain tonight and into tomorrow in Pittsburgh. Heinz field is already a slow track, but a little rain and it could make things very interesting.
Prediction-This is tough. I really think the Steelers will be able to move the ball well and put up points on the Redskins. They throw it too well not to; but, I am also concerned that they won’t have an answer for RGIII and Morris. A high scoring game favors the Steelers because they can air it out and the Redskins receivers are hobbled. Give me the good guys at home in a close, high-scoring affair.
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