From the looks of this match-up, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense shouldn’t have any problems with the Miami Dolphins’ defense. But then again, this is why games aren’t played on paper. With a huge game against the Patriots looming in a week, the Steelers need to make sure they don’t overlook this Miami team and set the tone early.
Pittsburgh Offense: Overall 5th, Passing 2nd, Rushing 12th
Miami Defense: Overall 29th, Passing 18th, Rushing 32nd
For all of the money that Miami has wrapped up in its defensive front, they aren’t getting much of a return on their investment. Ndamukong Suh is the NFL’s highest paid interior lineman yet much like his play in Detroit, he doesn’t always show up on every play. Still, of the Dolphins’ 10 total sacks, Suh has 2.5 of those. He is still the main focus of what the Steelers’ offense has to account for along the front line.
Kiko Alonso is the team’s leading tackler with 50 stops so far in 2016. He doesn’t have a ton of help and especially behind him where the secondary has just one interception all year. Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus has had a nice season on the back end as has rookie corner Xavien Howard but outside of that the Dolphins’ defensive unit has largely underwhelmed.
How the Steelers Attack.
Commons sense would suggest that Todd Haley will get the ball to Le’Veon Bell in the run game early and often. With Miami ranking dead last against the run it just seems to obvious doesn’t it?
I think it may be actually. With Ben Roethlisberger playing well, I see no reason not to keep the foot on the gas in the passing game. Look for the Steelers to target both the rookie Howard but also Byron Maxwell who is not nearly the player he once was back when he was in Seattle. Whether Sammie Coates plays or not (his hand is currently in a cast), I think the Steelers will go deep early to set the tone that they will be aggressive.
Since the season began, opposing defenses have chosen to do two things to slow down Antonio Brown. The Bengals found some success by dropping linebackers underneath and playing safeties over the top. Other teams have mostly stuck with the safety over the top idea as their primary way of slowing him down.
As long as Roethlisberger is having success with other open targets, there’s no reason for him to force the ball to Brown. What AB has to understand is that he’s going to get his looks (he was targeted 11 times last week) but they might not be as many as he’s used to.
Haley will strive for balance on Sunday which is all any good offense can ask for. He and Roethlisberger need to keep getting the ball to Bell and company and let them do the work. It’s been a solid formula so far and if it ain’t broke they shouldn’t fix it.
Photo courtesy New Pittsburgh Courier