The Pittsburgh Steelers, like their fans, had to have been happy with their victory Sunday. It put to rest a four-game slide and allowed the team to get back into a first-place tie with the Baltimore Ravens. However, the Steelers’ offense, like their fans, had to have been agitated by the lack of red zone success in Cleveland. That has to be something that gets better as the season winds down.
Colts’ Defensive Rankings: Overall-30th, Passing-30th, Rushing-24th
Steelers’ Offensive Rankings: Overall-12th, Passing 7th, Rushing-24th
How the Steelers Attack
There was little secret about last week’s gameplan in Cleveland; give the ball to Le’Veon Bell early and often. I suspect that will occur again this week but not to the same degree. With perfect conditions inside Lucas Oil Stadium and a pass defense that ranks near the bottom, don’t be surprised if the Steelers come out throwing.
That doesn’t mean you abandon the run or you abandon Bell either. What it means is that you get aggressive and take advantage of what the defense doesn’t do well. I think Sammie Coates needs to get more offensive snaps even if he still can’t catch the ball well. His ability to take the top off of the secondary is important for opening things up underneath. Without him the last couple of weeks, teams have been able to pack in the coverage making it difficult for Ben Roethlisberger to find open guys.
Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley used a lot of heavy packages on Sunday in Cleveland. Jesse James played 99% of the offensive snaps while Chris Hubbard had 12, Ladarius Green nine and David Johnson 23. There is of course a time and a place for heavy sets but I think Haley goes there too often. Against the Colts, I’d like to see more ’11’ personnel where James is the only tight end on the field. Get Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers, Cobi Hamilton and hopefully Coates, room to operate in more spread out formations.
The always dangerous Robert Mathis is still a pass rushing threat and Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson are decent cornerbacks but the Steelers’ offense should find room to maneuver. Indy is 30th in the NFL giving up over six yards per play and the Steelers have to capitalize on that. Besides, Big Ben has thrown for 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last two games against the Colts. He should have more success on Thanksgiving night.
One area of concern is that Colts’ first year Defensive Coordinator Ted Monachino is a former Ravens’ linebackers coach. He was in that capacity for six years and was under the tutelage of current Ravens’ coordinator Dean Pees. Why is that a concern? Because Pees has had pretty solid success against the Steelers. Granted, the personnel is much different but it’s something Haley and Roethlisberger need to be prepared for.
At the end of the day, the Steelers need to score points and they should against this defense.
Photo courtesy CBS News