View Full Version : The matchup: Jaguars' Witherspoon vs. Steelers' coverage

10-05-2008, 12:31 AM
The matchup: Jaguars' Witherspoon vs. Steelers' coverage units
By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, October 5, 2008
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 91704.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_591704.html)


JAGUARS PR/KR BRIAN WITHERSPOON: He's only 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, but Witherspoon can fly. A product of Stillman (Ala.) College, the free-agent rookie is listed on the roster as a CB but makes his impact on returns. Although he hasn't scored a touchdown, it may be only a matter of time. Witherspoon is third in the NFL in punt returns (15.8 avg. and fourth in kickoff returns (29.7). Timed at 4.26 in the 40-yad dash, Witherspoon may be the fastest player the Jaguars have ever had.

THE STEELERS' COVERAGE UNITS: A disaster waiting to happen a year ago, the Steelers' coverage units have improved dramatically. Despite facing the dangerous likes of Joshua Cribbs (Cleveland) and Yamon Figures (Baltimore) this season, the Steelers rank a most respectable sixth in the NFL in opponents' average drive start following a kickoff (the 22.9 yard line). The Steelers haven't allowed a kickoff return of longer 37 yards and haven't permitted a punt return longer than 12 yards.

THE MATCHUP: In a game during which field position figures to be critical, Witherspoon's success or lack thereof will help decide things one way or another. If he can give his team field position, the pressure will be off the Jacksonville offense, which has been inconsistent rushing the ball due to injuries sustained at center and both guard positions. If the Steelers can keep the Jaguars backed up and consistently take over at or near midfield, it'll take the pressure off their protection-challenged attack. EDGE: JAGUARS

LAST WEEK: The Ravens' running game allowed Baltimore to become the first team to rush for 100 yards against the Steelers this season (103) but averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. The Ravens wound up rallying in the fourth quarter and taking the Steelers to overtime, but that was mostly because of QB Joe Flacco. The Steelers' defensive line held the line when it had to most of the time in a 23-20 triumph. EDGE: STEELERS

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

10-05-2008, 09:22 AM
I advocated a late round pick or FA pickup of Witherspoon who was said to be the fastest guy in the draft but never got to run at the combine. He's actually an OK corner as well.