View Full Version : It'll be a case of deją vu all over again

09-06-2008, 01:39 AM
By Mike Prisuta
Saturday, September 6, 2008

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 86759.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_586759.html)

Although the Steelers are preparing for just their third all-time meeting with the Houston Texans, for the defensive linemen, it'll be a case of deją vu all over again in Sunday's regular-season opener.

"Watching the film, if you changed the uniforms, it would seem like you're playing the Denver Broncos," Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith said.

Call it the Alex Gibbs effect.

Houston's first-year assistant head coach/offense coached the offensive line for the Broncos from 1984-87 and 1995-03. The same zone-blocking, cut-'em-when-you-can approach that opened so many holes for so many running backs for so many years in Denver is all the rage with the Texans.

"Similar scheme," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "They're kind of lighter guys, not big, heavy bruisers, and they really turn and run. They're trying to turn and run and get separation from you and not really push you away but just get in the way so the back can scoot through."

The Broncos were often a lightning rod for controversy for their perceived habit of relying upon illegal chop blocks as well as cut blocks.

A chop block consists of an offensive lineman engaging a defensive lineman high and then a second offensive lineman attacking the defender low.

A cut block occurs when an offensive lineman takes out a defender at the knees.

Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher was among those who went public with complaints over the way Denver played the game back in the day.

The Texans haven't been accused of such tactics.

"I haven't seen the high-low blocks and the things that Denver apparently has a reputation for," Keisel said.

Then again, "any time you're getting cut, you always think it's dirty," Smith said. "Nobody likes to get cut."

The Texans will employ cut blocks to seal the back side of stretch plays, which will either provide cut-back lanes for their running backs or space into which quarterback Matt Schaub can bootleg after executing a play-action fake.

"Same as Denver," Smith said, "run, run, run, run and then boot."

The Steelers know what they'll need to do to combat such tactics tomorrow at Heinz Field.

"Keep your pads square, don't get turned and flow to the ball," Keisel said. "Everyone needs to rally. When we run to the ball like we can, we're tough."

The Texans' offensive line is tough enough that the Steelers defensive linemen are anticipating having to do the dirty work much more than they are playing a lead role.

Then again, why should this game be any different?

"It's like that every game," Keisel said. "'Hamp' (nose tackle Casey Hampton) is taking on three guys, Aaron and I will try to get two and we'll let those LBs flow to the ball and knock people out."

Mike Prisuta can be reached at mprisuta@tribweb.com or 412-320-7923

09-07-2008, 12:56 AM
That is one thing certainly to worry about. Considering our woeful d-line depth, you have to be concerned about any of our starting d-lineman getting their knees taken out from them because of an Alex Gibbs' special legal-cut-block-bordering-on-illegal-chop-block in the very first game of the season. *Knocking maniacally on any wood that I can find.*