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LaDainian Tomlinson Will Be a Key in Passing Game Against Pittsburgh Steelers

LaDainian Tomlinson has been a much bigger part of New York's passing game than Shonn Greene this year. That should not change against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His contributions will be needed Sunday.

LT has gone out on pass patterns roughly three times more often than staying in to block. One can only hope that ratio will go up Sunday. The Pittsburge defense has a lot of similarities to the one the Jets run. They show a lot of exotic fronts and blitz heavily. They make use of zone blitzes a lot. There are many times where there are either more rushers than linemen or the fronts confuse the blocking, and a guy runs free. It is of the utmost importance to have a back capable of finding an untouched rusher and throwing a block. Tomlinson has been seen everything. Even if Damien Woody was not out, giving extra help to the offensive line would be important. Greene and Joe McKnight aren't experienced enough to trust against an aggressive defense. Although facing a blitz has been one of the best parts of Mark Sanchez's game this year, giving him extra security is important considering how low his confidence has looked these past few weeks.

The Jets also need to make use of the screen game to try and slow down blitzes a bit. Tomlinson is clearly a better weapon in the passing game than Greene. There will be opportunities to make big plays by getting pass rushers caught too far up the field. It looks like there is a good chance Troy Polamalu won't be in the lineup to fly up and bail the defense out.

The conventional wisdom might be that the Jets need to use the more physical runner in Shonn Greene to pound the ball. I won't disagree, but running it effectively on this front would have been a tall order with the offensive line in tact. The way Sanchez is playing, the box will be loaded frequently. The Jets will need to win this game through the air. Thus, I argue Tomlinson's role will be more important.