|10-19-2007, 03:00 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Steelers at Broncos Preview
Steelers Keys For Success
1. Get Willie Parker going early. Coming off back-to-back-to-back losses, the Broncos' season could be riding on Sunday night's game. The first order of business for the Steelers will be to take control of the line of scrimmage. The Steelers will use their trademark off-tackle runs to attack the left side of the Broncos' defense, specifically end John Engelberger and tackle Sam Adams. Parker must hit the hole at full speed and watch for cutback lanes. By having success on the ground, the Steelers can take the crowd out of the game.
2. Use two- and three-tight end sets. The Steelers' improved passing game has included a big dose of tight ends Health Miller, Matt Spaeth and Jerame Tuman. All three are physical run blockers and athletic receivers who know how to get open. The Steelers' scheme includes running several two- and three-tight end formations to take advantage of all three's ability to catch passes and gain yardage after the catch. The Broncos must be sure to jam the tight ends, preventing them from getting a free release. With Santonio Holmes stretching the field and Hines Ward (knee) returning to action to clear out the underneath zones, the Steelers will look for Miller and Tuman in the flats. The Broncos' linebackers must get help from the safeties.
3. Pressure Jay Cutler from the outside. Cutler is at his best when throwing on the move. Against Pittsburgh's fast and aggressive defense, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will scheme to get Cutler outside. Pittsburgh's edge rushers must keep their outside arms free and keep plays inside of them. Clark Haggins and James Harrison are fast physical linebackers who have the strength to push through the blocks of offensive tackles Erik Pears and Matt Lepsis. Denver's running backs must pick up the slack and get a shoulder into the edge rushers to slow them.
Broncos Keys For Success
1. Run at the center of the Steelers' defense. All legal woes aside, Travis Henry is an effective interior runner. For the Broncos to have success against the Steelers' fast and attacking defense, Henry should run directly at them. Chris Myers is taking over for injured center Tom Nalen, but the real weakness of the Denver line is at right guard (Montrae Holland) and right tackle (Pears). The Steelers will bring pressure off the edges, specifically at and through Holland and Pears. The Broncos should counter by attacking the middle of the defense to slow their pursuit off the edge. The Steelers' Casey Hampton is an elite nose tackle, but he is returning from a hamstring injury and might not be up to par.
2. Protect Cutler. Wide receivers Javon Walker, Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley should be able to get open against the Steelers' defensive backs, but Cutler might not have the required time to deliver an accurate pass. The Steelers will blitz early and often against the inexperienced Cutler. The Broncos' offensive linemen must perform better, and the coaches must use more maximum-protection schemes, including double-tight end sets, to protect Cutler. The Steelers will line up at times with eight or nine men in the box. Running backs Cecil Sapp and/or Henry must pick up the blitzers coming off the edge.
3. Double-team Miller in the red zone. Miller is having his best season, particularly in the red zone. The Broncos must be aware of Miller and his ability to run after the catch. Outside linebackers Ian Gold and Nate Webster must get help from safety Nick Ferguson and shadow Miller. The Steelers make frequent use of double-tight end formations, especially on average third-down situations, like third-and-5. Miller and Spaeth have been especially effective in such situations. The Broncos must pressure quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and not allow Miller and/or Spaeth have a free release off the line.