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Pittsburgh Steelers Have Vertical Threats

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One of the problems the Patriots had against the Jets was their lack of a vertical threat. Brandon Tate was probably their best one, but he is not a very productive receiver. Deion Branch has done good things for them, but he does not have elite straight line speed. Would having a guy like the 2008 or 2009 version of Randy Moss have made a difference against guys like Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie who handle that kind of receiver well? Maybe not, but it at least would have changed the defense's perspective.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have drafted three receivers in the past two years. These guys, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, and Antonio Brown join Hines Ward as the top four on the depth chart. Wallace and Sanders ran some of the fastest 40 times at the Combine the years they were drafted. While my feelings on the Combine are mainly negative, one thing it can display is vertical speed, which those guys have. Brown flashed 4.4 speed at his workout day and made the pivotal play of Pittsburgh's Divisional win against Baltimore, getting behind a conservative defense on a vertical route late in the fourth quarter on a third and long reception.

When the Steelers spread the field with Wallace, Sanders, and Brown, I have noticed that they like to bunch the receivers together. This allows the wideouts to get a clean release. It is too risky to play aggressively with so many receivers (and defenders) lining up close together because traffic could cause somebody to run into somebody else and let the receivers get wide open deep.

These are more reasons I would like to see the Jets play coverage a lot this week. Ben Roethlisberger is great at extending plays even when blitzed. It would be nice to see some of the subpackage corners like Drew Coleman have help against fast opponents. I also think a guy like Marquice Cole, who has a lot of speed, could see more time than usual in this game. He played 31 of his 128 total defensive snaps in the regular season during the first game in Pittsburgh.