Mike Tomlin talks about the Pittsburgh Steelers' upcoming opponent

Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin explained the success of the Denver Broncos at his weekly press conference. Here's his breakdown:

The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) host the Denver Broncos (10-3) Sunday at 4:25 p.m. Here's how Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin broke down the Broncos on Tuesday:

Total Defense
NFL rank: yards per game 1st (273), points per game 1st (17.3).

"As you watch the tape, they are the best defense in football. The video bears that out. The statistics bear that out. They are great on the back end. They are great up front. Together, it’s lethal."

Front Seven Defense
NFL rank: rush yards per game 3rd (84), rush yards per carry 1st (3.3), sacks 1st (44).

"They have some quality men that apply consistent pressure to the quarterback, Von MillerDeMarcus Ware and company. We are just becoming aware of what they are capable of. They play a lot of people. They are getting production from a lot of people. Miller and Ware get the headlines, and rightfully so, but they are getting quality contributions from a lot of people in the pass rush area, guys like Shane Ray. He is a young guy that has been contributing greatly in recent weeks. Shaquil Barrett is a young guy that has been contributing greatly. I am really impressed with their interior presence of Malik Jackson, a young guy out of Tennessee. He is a big-time disruptor that wins one-on-ones versus interior rush men. He bats passes and things of that nature. They provide a consistent rush on the quarterback. They do it with four, five and six. Coach (Wade) Phillips has been doing it a long time. He’s very thoughtful about how he mixes it up. They are very versatile but at the same time they don’t trick themselves. Pressure is a platform for a lot of positive things that happen for them. They produce a lot of splash. They have a lot of turnovers. They get touchdowns off of those turnovers, a lot of that is born out of the well that their opposing quarterbacks are throwing out of."

Secondary Defense
NFL rank: pass yards per game 1st (188), pass yards per play 2nd (6.1), passer rating 2nd (75.5).

"In the secondary, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris man the corner positions. But they have other guys that play as well. They have a dense and diverse sub-package group, guys like Bradley Roby and others participating. I think they are really getting quality safety play. I know they’ve had some issues with health at that position in recent weeks, but largely, the play of the safeties has been equally as impressive. T.J. Ward is a quality player. We are very familiar with him from his time in Cleveland and what he is capable of, and Darian Stewart is playing really well for them."

Defensive Summation

"It starts there for us. We have to minimize negativity. They get negative plays in the run game with their tackles for loss. They get you behind the chains. They rush the passer. They get sacks, sack-fumbles and interceptions. We have to minimize negativity. Before we talk about any of the positive things we are capable of doing or the ways we choose to attack them, I think we just need to acknowledge how dangerous this group is. In order for us to have a winning performance, we have to minimize negativity and the type of negativity that their defense is capable of creating."

Total Offense
NFL rank: yards per game 24th (339), points per game 17th (21.6).

"Very much like a Coach (Gary) Kubiak-coached group. They mix the run and the pass extremely well. The pass and the run is married together, in that the play-action pass looks very similar and is married very well with the run game. The misdirection pass, same thing. They are very thoughtful in how they move the pocket. In the movement of the pocket, they will boot both ways."

Passing Offense
NFL rank: yards per game 18th (240), yards per attempt 27th (6.7), sacked 20th (32).

"They will spread the ball around to a variety of people, this is whether Peyton Manning is the quarterback or Brock Osweiler. Their personality is not very different in terms of the schemes that they employ and the way that they call plays. Obviously Manning brings certain things to the table that only he brings. But largely, as you prepare for them, there is not a lot of differences from a preparation standpoint, in terms of schematics or the ways in which they attack you. ... When you talk about minimizing their passing game, we have to do a good job of working to minimize their tight ends, Owen Daniels, specifically. He is a guy that has some continuity with Coach Kubiak. We’ve seen both of those guys in Baltimore. Now both are in Denver. Both are familiar with us. He is a big component of what they do, particularly in the misdirection passing game. He is a quality player. He had some big games against us a year ago when he was playing for the Ravens. We have to work to minimize his impact on the game. Any time you are playing Denver, you better be prepared to stop the guys outside. Demaryius Thomas is a top-flight X, if you will. He is big, physical and can make the combat catches. He is good after the catch. He’s had some big plays against us over the years. Obviously I have a lot of respect and admiration for Emmanuel Sanders. I love that guy. It’s good to see he is having a great career out there and is doing things that we knew he was capable of. I am just really proud of him and excited for him. We have to work to minimize his impact on the game. That’s not going to be an easy task, because he is a quality player, and he’s a hard working player."

Rushing Offense
NFL rank: yards per game 15th (99), yards per attempt 21st (3.9).

"They have a quality running back group in Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson. They are a little bit different. Hillman is more of a darter or a perimeter guy, a speed guy. Anderson, I have really been impressed with. I think he has really good contact balance. He’s not easy off of his feet. He bounces off a lot of tackles. But both guys do a really nice job with pick and vision, and putting the ball where it’s supposed to go in their zone schemes. They do a nice job of dressing up base runs with a variety of formations or personnel groups and shifts and motions. They are very fundamental in that way."

Offensive Summation

"We have a lot to minimize in that area of the game. If you look at some things where they are statistically, we have to do a good job of minimizing situational football and the things that they are capable of doing there. They lead the league in sacks, the turnovers and things that they can produce."

Special Teams
NFL rank: kickoff return 22nd (22.3), opponent kickoff return 5th (20.4), punt return 10th (9.8), opponent punt return 13th (7.7), field goal percentage 11th (86.7).

"Their specialists are good players. They have Britton Colquitt. I think any time you have a Colquitt on your team, you have a good specialist group. We are excited about the process of readying ourselves for this game."


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