The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the talented, but inconsistent, Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday. They have taken some great strides this offseason, looking to be a factor in the AFC South. The Jaguars added Calais Campbell this offseason, to bolster their pass rush. They currently lead the league in sacks, with Campbell’s five and a half leading the way. They drafted running back Leonard Fournette in the first round this year, hoping to take pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles. Week five Pittsburgh Steelers what to watch for looks at how they may attack the young Jags.
The Jaguars have benefited from both of these offseason additions. Unfoutunately, they suffer from the inconsistencies that plague most young teams. Fournette has been the workhorse the Jaguars envisioned, but remain mostly one dimensional on offense. Their strength is a defense led by Campbell, Paul Posluszny, Myles Jack, and Jalen Ramsey. The defense led Jacksonville during their two wins, Consequently though, the New York Jets beat them by rushing for 177 yards.
Week Five Pittsburgh Steelers What To Watch For
What to Watch for on Offense
The Jacksonville Jaguars are putting a pretty nice defense together, with quality depth. Backup defensive ends Dawuane Smoot and Dante Fowler Jr. are a nice compliment to the starters. 2016 addition Malik Jackson gives them a quality defensive tackle, rounding out a solid front. Their defense leads the league in sacks, with 18, and is formidable in coverage. The Jaguars run defense ranks 30th however, which Todd Haley and Le’Veon Bell will take full advantage of.
On offense, look for the Steelers to pound away on the Jaguars defense with a healthy dose of the running game. Bell is the hammer, but James Conner will get a half dozen carries himself. Terrell Watson may get a few handoffs outside of short yardage situations as well. It’s a perfect scenario for the Steelers to use all their running backs to wear down the Jaguars defense.
The Jaguars are stellar in pass coverage, but haven’t faced an attack quite like the one they are about to. Admittedly, Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t played up to his normal standards, but he can go off at any time. Antonio Brown will see plenty of balls, but look for JuJu Smith-Schuster to be a prime target underneath. Smith-Schuster is a mismatch for the linebackers and safeties, and Roethlisberger will take advantage of that.
What to Watch for on Defense
Week five Pittsburgh Steelers what to watch for on defense, focuses on what the Steelers do best, playing physical defense. The Steelers 15 sacks ranks second in the NFL, putting them on a pace for 60. Their success comes from generating pressure without having to blitz, allowing linebackers the freedom to roam. Bortles is likely to feel the wrath of that pass rush before long, due to a lack of reliable receivers. Obviously Bortles’ best protection lies with Fournette and a relentless ground attack.
The Steelers first priority, unquestionably, is to shut Fournette down. Look for the defense to crowd the line of scrimmage, limiting his yards after contact with a gang tackling mentality. Fournette’s capable of catching passes as well, however, Between T.J. Watt and Ryan Shazier, there those opportunities will be limited.
Bortles has limited options in the passing game. Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee are decent possession receivers, but aren’t true deep threats. Artie Burns and Joe Haden should have a nice day, with the possibility of an interception or two between them. Bortles is vulnerable to turnovers when under constant pressure, and he is certain to face a lot of it. The Jaguars could be in for a very long day at Heinz Field. The Steelers defense could be the ones leading the NFL in sacks by the time this one is over.
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