The Steelers’ offense looks lifeless. The defense is finally getting healthier, although until Stephon Tuitt and Carlos Davis return they are still shorthanded on the interior defensive line.
Still, this team is the closest it has been to that week one version of the team since the start of the game against the Raiders. It will be incredibly hard to go into Lambeau Field and pull off a win against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. However, they did pull off a big win against the Bills on the road, too. So, what has to happen for the Steelers to shock the NFL world?
Ben Roethlisberger Must Be Methodical
Believe it or not, the Steelers may have opportunities to make some plays against the Packers’ secondary. Jaire Alexander is elite, but Chandon Sullivan and Eric Stokes are exploitable to a degree. However, looking at their overall scheme this is the type of scheme that the Steelers might actually like facing. The Packers play a lot of off-man quarters coverage and that means there will be opportunities underneath. However, even more importantly, there might chances for double moves to create explosive plays over the top. Joe Barry runs a Vic Fangio-esque scheme that will also employ some Cover 2 man. However, he is living more so in that quarters landscape.
So, then the brunt of the issues comes onto execution. Ben Roethlisberger, in particular, has to be more methodical and decisive with his decision-making. In other words, absolutely no turnovers at his expense. One of the biggest differences between Cincinnati and Las Vegas versus the Buffalo game was that Roethlisberger was methodical and making the right decisions. He became a game manager, and at this point, that is what this offense needs. His out-of-structure playmaking ability is what it is at this point. Instead of trying to do too much, Roethlisberger needs to do what he can do, let his talented weapons make plays, and just be a point guard. Against the Packers, that is very possible.
Lose Slowly Against Kenny Clark
The other part of the offensive equation is this offensive line. Not mincing words here, the offensive line has struggled mightily. They have had stretches wherein pass protection they look fine, but other times Roethlisberger is just on the ground every play with zero time to let anything develop. Now, the Packers are missing Za’Darius Smith. So, in that vein, there is one less threat for the Steelers offensive line to worry about.
However, with them being down to Joe Haeg and Dan Moore now due to injuries to Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner still working his way back, they still have to contend with Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Moreover, however, Kenny Clark is a massive issue for the interior offensive line. There are truly very few ways to scheme up and stop interior pass rushers. So, this burden falls directly on Kendrick Green. He’s not going to win every battle, but if he can lose slowly most of the time, it will be a victory for Green and this offense. They can not let Clark take over the game and just wreck the gameplan.
Take Away Davante Adams
When the defense has been relatively healthy, they have done a nice job of eliminating the biggest threat on the opposing offense. In Buffalo, they neutralized Stefon Diggs. Against the Raiders, they took away Darren Waller. Both of those defensive performances were good enough to nab a victory if the offense had picked them up in any regard. However, they failed to do so. With a battered defense last week, they could not accomplish the same feat, but they are healthy this time around.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling being out is a big deal. It may not seem like one, but that is the fastest receiver on Green Bay’s team and their true vertical threat option. With him on the sideline at this point, the gameplan could be easier for the Steelers. It starts first and foremost with taking away Adams, who is Rodgers’ favorite target. Rodgers is a phenomenal talent and will make the plays he makes, this is true. However, the main goal has to be making it as hard on him as they possibly can. That starts with taking away Adams in the gameplan.
Dial-Up All the Pressure Beaters
Well, hopefully, fans didn’t think screens were going anywhere? There is a lot of reason to believe that the Steelers will use those as a crux of the gameplan, specifically with Pat Freiermuth and Najee Harris involved in this one. The Packers do a lot of mixing and matching with their pressure looks, but they bring the heat a lot. In other words, Roethlisberger will be forced to throw with pressure in his face.
Whatever he can do to somehow get chunk plays off those pressure looks is how the Steelers can attack this and beat it. Still, screens are not the only way to beat blitzes in the Matt Canada offense. They can execute swing passes, use the misdirection they have with their offense and feed off of that blitz. The bunch sets they love to run are great for creating traffic and potentially giving the Steelers quick beaters to the flat over the middle of the field. However, they manage the blitz schematically will be a huge deciding factor on if this offense can move the ball at all.