What an interesting week this could be in the AFC North. The headliner is obviously the Browns hosting the Steelers but the Ravens head to Tampa Bay where the Bucs are scoring points with Mike Glennon at QB. Division leader Cincinnati is coming off an embarrassing loss in New England and is likely without A.J. Green
Should the Steelers win Sunday, that will get them to 4-2 and 2-1 in the division. Three divisional game would remain; two against the Bengals and one at home against the Ravens. Let’s not put the cart before the horse however…. Here’s three things we’re looking for against Cleveland on Sunday.
1. Red Zone Success. By “Red Zone Success” I don’t mean kicking field goals either. The Steelers rank 26th in the NFL in scoring touchdowns within the red zone. While Ben Roethlisberger has a passer rating of over 100 in the red zone, offensive coordinator Todd Haley hasn’t exactly help him out by completely eliminating the run the last two weeks.
Haley needs to find balance and he needs to get more creative with his play-calling. I guarantee Cleveland is planning to see end arounds and wide receiver screens in the red zone so Haley needs to come up with something better.
2. Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. One of things that really impresses me about Browns’ QB Brian Hoyer is that he has very calm, yet agile feet. He’s comfortable on the move but sits in the pocket very well for a guy with limited NFL action. While Dick LeBeau has been able to get his defense solidified against the run for now, he has to start finding ways of getting pressure.
One of the classic blitzes from LeBeau used to involve bringing corners of the edge. He has to be willing to trust his defense and do this again. Any way the defense can force Hoyer to make throws quicker than he wants to is a positive. Obviously this will also limit the amount of time the secondary has to cover.
3. Special Teams Have to Be Better. In particular, unit captain Robert Golden has to eliminate bad penalties that have haunted him in recent weeks. The Steelers have the second worst starting field position in the league and much of that is a result of bad penalties.
It’s one thing to be aggressive but it’s another thing entirely to be committing dumb penalties which most of these are. It would also be nice if Antonio Brown or Dri Archer could make a big play or two int eh return game as well.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on game day on the Trib-Live Radio Steelers Pre-Game
photo courtesy newpittsburghcourieronline.com