View Full Version : Jaguars vs Steelers Game Preview

10-02-2008, 12:31 AM
Jaguars vs Steelers Game Preview

By Charlie Bernstein
Posted Oct 1, 2008

Charlie Bernstein

The Jaguars have an entirely new outlook on their season as they have won two consecutive games and are back in the thick of not only a wildcard spot, but the division title race. The Jaguars have won four consecutive games in the series and the Pittsburgh offense has suffered some injuries of late, with both starting running back Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall going down.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, October 5, 2008, 8:15 p.m.
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, FL

Records: Pittsburgh 3-1, Jacksonville 2-2
Series history: Jacksonville leads 11-8.
Last season: Jacksonville won both meetings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh offense 29th overall (28th passing, 21st rushing); Scoring- 24th – 19.2 ppg. vs. Jacksonville defense 18th overall (24th passing, 14th rushing); Scoring- 15th- 21.2 ppg.

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is predicated on a strong running game, and accurate passing by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Pro Bowl quarterback finished second in the NFL in quarterback rating a year ago (104.1), and broke nearly every Pittsburgh Steeler single-season passing record. Roethlisberger may be the third-best quarterback in football.

The Steelers have historically made a commitment to the running game, but their two big horses, Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall will likely miss Sunday’s game. Expect a big dose of Ben Roethlisberger throwing the football in prime time.

Roethlisberger’s best target in the passing game may be tight end Heath Miller, who has great hands, and enough speed to get open in the seam. The team’s best deep threat is former first-round pick Santonio Holmes. The best possession receiver remains Hines Ward, who could be a borderline hall of famer when his career is finished. Rookie Limus Sweed has big play potential, and first-year player Dallas Baker could be a contributor.

The Jaguars have had trouble getting to the quarterback this season, and the Steelers have had trouble protecting their quarterback. It’s weakness vs. weakness, and whichever line proves to be stronger will likely have a large say in the outcome.

The Jacksonville linebacking corps was supposed to be a team strength, but they are playing average at best early on in the year. Mike Peterson looks like a players that is well past his prime, Daryl Smith struggled early, but had a great game against the Texans, and Clint Ingram is susceptible to play-action.

The Jaguars secondary makes big plays, but also allows big plays. Cornerbacks Drayton Florence and Rashean Mathis have spent numerous time chasing opposing wide receivers, and safeties Brian Williams and Reggie Nelson have blown coverages, and missed tackles.

Best offensive matchup for Pittsburgh: Heath Miller vs. Mike Peterson- Miller is a mismatch for most linebackers, and Peterson has been playing at a very low level in 2008.

Best defensive matchup for Jacksonville: Jags rotation of DT’s vs. Pittsburgh interior offensive line- If the Jaguars can get some inside pressure from their big defensive tackles against an underachieving Steelers offensive line, Ben Roethlisberger will be very sore Monday morning.

Jacksonville offense 23rd overall (20th passing, 12th rushing); Scoring- 21st 19.8 ppg. vs. Pittsburgh defense 2nd overall (3rd passing, 4th rushing); Scoring- 4th – 14.5 ppg.

Jaguars quarterback David Garrard had been underwhelming to begin 2008, as he has already surpassed his interception total of a year ago (3), but he’s come on strong in the past two games. With teams loading up with eight and nine men in the box, Garrard and the Jaguars passing game will have to prove they can make plays. They did that last Sunday. Jerry Porter made his Jaguars debut last Sunday and caught one pass, but Garrard still has Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt, a motivated Matt Jones, who leads the team in receiving, Mike Walker, and speedster Troy Williamson. Tight end Marcedes Lewis will be trying to overcome his worst game as a pro, as he dropped numerous passes a week ago.

The Jaguars return to rushing dominance was evident against a small Indianapolis Colts defensive line two weeks ago to the tune of 48 rushing attempts for 236 yards. Both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew had better than 100 yards on the ground, and the ball-control offense was back. The Jaguars couldn’t run on a Texans team that sold out to stop them, and the Steelers will likely employ a similar strategy.

Pittsburgh has great athletes in their 3-4 scheme which is led by linebacker James Harrison, who has 5.5 sacks already this season. Add in Lamarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, and Clark Haggans, and the Steelers are as athletic and active on the ends as anyone in the NFL.

It is unclear whether or not nose tackle Casey Hampton will play, as he missed Monday night’s game with a groin strain. Aaron Smith is one of the most underrated defensive ends, as Smith can get pressure on the passer and stop the run.

The Steelers secondary is led by Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, along with free safety Ryan Clark. The corners are Ike Taylor and veteran DeShea Townsend. Polamalu is a dynamic player who has sideline to sideline coverage ability and can hit as hard as anyone in the league.

Best offensive matchup for Jacksonville: Matt Jones vs. Ike Taylor- Jones is having a career year with 21 catches already and he will have better than a six inch height advantage over the Steelers cornerback.

Best defensive matchup for Pittsburgh: Lamarr Woodley vs. David Garrard- Woodley is turning into a dynamic linebacker and he will disguise his blitzes and drop back in coverage from time to time. Garrard will have to be aware of Woodley whenever he’s on the field.

Special Teams

Pittsburgh: PK Jeff Reed, P Mitch Berger, LS Greg Warren, KOR Mewelde Moore, PR Santonio Holmes

Jacksonville: PK Josh Scobee, P Adam Podlesh, LS Joe Zelenka, KOR Brian Witherspoon, PR Brian Witherspoon

Special teams advantage: The Jaguars have a better coverage unit, and the more explosive return men. Kicker Jeff Reed is about as good as it gets, and Mitch Berger is a solid veteran punter, but the Jaguars have a slight advantage overall.

10-02-2008, 02:13 AM
This guy shouldn't write anymore previews he has errors all over the article...Mendenhall is out for the season so he's probably right that he won't play. Haggans is decent but the problem is he isn't on our team anymore...

10-02-2008, 07:27 AM
he also mentions how limas sweed has big play potential. it seems like he wrote the preview before the season started