The Steelers missed him as an alternate deep cover man and as a quick
blitzer against Tom Brady. Their depth had carried them in previous
games without him, but against such a precise QB he was greatly missed.
That's a huge loss for their run defense. They won't be too bad off in
the short run with the combination of journeymen Nick Eason and Travis
Kirshcke, and if they do meet the Pats again ... well, they don't run
the ball. So that's the degree at this point.
I keep reading that people have success and this and that, but it was
just a poorly designed scheme -- 7step drops and play-action -- for a
line that can't hold its blocks. They've since eliminated most of those
slow-developing plays, particularly since their run game isn't scaring
anyone. Remember Ben rolling left and throwing a pass to Hines Ward at
the goal line on third-and-30 in the Super Bowl? He throws well on the
run to either side and is also outstanding in the pocket. He just needs
time and the better coordinated offense that's playing right now.
His chances are improving. The thought of it is growing on people with
every year he's effective. I think people like those guys who kind of
revolutionize the game as long as they have the stats. No one I ever
remember knocks out linebackers on blocks with such frequency.
They've rebounded since. Part of the reason they've always struggled
against the Jags is because of their big defensive tackles. Jeff Hartings (and now Sean Mahan) and Kendall Simmons are more mobile
pullers than they are plow-men in the run game. I tell people this every
week: The Steelers can't run up the middle. They didn't even try --
finally -- against the Pats and were effective. They shouldn't even try
against the Jags. The myth that the Steelers are a power running team is
The blocking of the tight ends is also hurting the run game and the
quarterback. Miller is one tough son of a gun but he's no Kyle Brady.
They don't consider them a rival but they have immense respect for their
style of play.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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