Note from John: Please join me in welcoming another new writer to the team. This one will be doing a weekly feature highlighting some of the strengths and weaknesses of each opponent.
I'd like to bring to your attention a few staple plays that the Steelers' run on offense and what the Jets should expect to see. I have four plays in total: two positive plays (with pictures) and two negative plays. The reason these four are chosen is it resembles what teams have brought at the Jets. Outside of the defensive line, the defence hasn't been able to really take teams out of what they are comfortable doing. The Jets have been dinked and dunked on, burned on the deep ball, and really taken themselves out of plays that should be made. Now Let's jump into these plays.
Strength Play 1: Shotgun Slot Post
After forcing a fumble on Spencer Ware, the Steelers were faced with a third-and-nine at the Kansas City 31-yard line. They Lined up with 3 receivers on the right-side of Ben Roethlisberger and LeVeon Bell next to him in the backfield. TE Xavier Grimble lines up next to the left tackle. The three receivers are Sammie Coates, Antonio Brown, and Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Marcus Peters will go with Coates and pass him off to the safety, the slot corner will follow Brown. When the Safety goes to pick up Coates, it frees Heyward-Bey in the middle. Now The scheme is supposed to be a 3 deep zone. The Chiefs CB on the left side, DJ White, picks up the TE rather play his zone of the field. The Steelers have run variations of this play multiple times throughout the season. The first down is there on the field as Brown has a step on his receiver and open space ahead of him, Coates has a window for Ben to hit him deep, and Grimble is clear past the sticks
Nevertheless, Big Ben's eyes are always downfield, and he gets to see a wide-open DHB; a product of play design and also a gift from the Chiefs D. This easily looks like many of the "miscommunication"/busted coverage we have seen the Jets DBs have this year. In fact we've seen three long touchdowns happen because of play designs like these. This strength of the Steelers lines up with the biggest problem the Jets have had all year in these big pass plays. With Revis likely out due to the hamstring, or if he plays not at 100%, the secondary really can't afford any breakdowns that we've seen the past couple weeks. Make sure the deep ball is covered, even if they pick up the first down, you still have a chance to limit them to three.
Play 2: Shotgun Stick
The stick play is among one of my favorite plays in Madden. It's designed to get you the first down, but it also gives you one deep threat option. The Steelers run a variation of this and it works incredibly well.
Markus Wheaton is the deep threat on this play. Coates is outside, with Bell in the slot and Grimble as the TE. Antonio Brown joins Wheaton on the left side. The receivers routes are designed short throws, but good enough to pick up the first down. Wheaton beats the defender right off the snap and Ben is able to hit him down field for a long TD. This play looks stoppable, but is very successful in this offense. Bell is a great pass catching RB and a true threat on this third and short situation. The problems this can give the Jets is first due to how poor the secondary has played, but more importantly Marcus Williams cushion coverage. This is not the week to be lined up in press and then start back-peddling 10 yards before the snap. Williams can really take himself out of the play and either give up a key first down, or worse. This type of play could also be a possibility for Calvin Pryor to regain confidence and deliver some big hits on these short passes (wishful thinking, but possible)
Weaknesses: Wide Receiver Screen
This has not been a play the Steelers have seemed to generate anything from. While highly successful on quick slant routes, the screen hasn't worked. Defences have been closing on the receivers quickly. If the Jets get beat on this play, they did it themselves. The Jets tackling needs to be sound; wrap the ball carrier up and get leverage on him. This really needs to be a focal point because these body shots aren't generating any fumbles, and end up leaving more room for the receiver to run if they just bounce off the hit. Keep it simple, don't beat yourself.
Weakness: Running off the right tackle
In the Q&A with Behind The Steel Curtain Jeff Hartmann addresses that the third string tackle, Chris Hubbard, is going to require help on his side of the field. In their designed runs, you see Williams/Bell cutback to the inside and run behind the center. If teams can get the necessary push from the nose tackle it could force the running back to continue to run behind Hubbard, where they should likely be met by Muhammad Wilkerson, David Harris and Darron Lee. The RB could also try and bounce it back and try and take off on the left side, so it will be key to not take yourself out of the play, because that is the only way this play beats you (well Bell can really beat you on any play, but design wise, this remains true)
The Jets need to correct the mistakes in order to remain competitive in a game that could quickly get out of hand for them. If they can start staying within their responsibility in coverage, we could see a limited passing attack. Still a big question mark if they can fix these busted coverages, but this game is going to need it addressed quickly. Big Ben likes to throw down field often; can the Jets limit the big plays to keep them in the game.