Behind Enemy Lines: Pittsburgh Steelers

Charlie Bernstein of questions's Jim Wexell on the readiness of the Steelers with the Jaguars coming to town.

Charlie Berstein: Will the Steelers be able to run the ball enough to keep from being one dimensional without Willie Parker? Can Najeh Davenport gain significant yardage against the Jacksonville defense?

Jim Wexell: The Steelers haven't been able to run the ball on the Jaguars since the Jaguars started drafting premium defensive tackles. I expect more of the same Saturday.

CB: With the absence of Parker, will the Steelers completely turn the offense over to Roethlisberger and go to a spread formation and throw the ball 30+ times? If they do that, do you think they can win?

JW: That's possible, and, yes, I think it can work. You'll see all sorts of stats attempting to prove that Roethlisberger is a "systems quarterback" who should only throw 25 times a game. But isn't that an optimal condition for any QB? That his running game is working and killing the clock? Roethlisberger is at the end of his fourth year. Some may be surprised to look back and see he was the 11th pick of the draft at one time and that he can win games by throwing the ball.

CB: In the game between these two teams a few weeks ago, Jacksonville pounded Pittsburgh on the ground and basically beat the Steelers at their own game. Can Pittsburgh stop the run this time around and if so, how?

JW: They've given no evidence of being able to stop the run without Aaron Smith.

CB: How will the Steelers protect Roethlisberger in this game? More max protection?

JW: "Max protection" seems like a pretty convenient term. But if they're going to put him in the shotgun with four wides, it'll be hit and miss with a young QB with a high pain threshold.

CB: Heath Miller caught just two passes in the December game between these two teams. Will getting him the football become a greater focus for Pittsburgh being that Jacksonville has struggled all season long covering tight ends?

JW: Thanks for the tip. I'll notify Bruce Arians.

But Coach, I can't find the TE's
Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians
(Gene J. Puskar / AP)

CB: How confident do you think the Steelers players and coaching staff feel knowing that no team has ever defeated them twice at home in the same season?

JW: They're probably not aware of it.

CB: How has the benching of Anthony Smith helped the Pittsburgh secondary? Have they been better in coverage?

JW: Anthony Smith started at FS last week and allowed a TD after first missing the tackle. He'll be back as the No. 3 safety this week with the return of Troy Polamalu. I expect the coverage to improve.

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