View Full Version : Steelers defense must find a way to stop opening drives

10-13-2011, 03:14 AM
To start, Steelers defense must find the stops

Thursday, October 13, 2011


James Farrior

It wasn't coincidence that the Steelers deferred the opening kickoff last week against Tennessee.

Coach Mike Tomlin wanted to see how his defense would respond to a challenge he laid out during the week in light of Houston's 19-play, 95-yard touchdown-scoring drive to start the game a week earlier.

It's safe to assume Tomlin didn't like what he saw a 13-play, 69-yard drive by the Titans that ended in a field goal.

"I know Mike T. was disappointed with what happened," linebacker James Farrior said. "It didn't work out so well, and we all were disappointed."

It has become a familiar scene, the Steelers' defense allowing opening-game scoring drives.

Twice the Steelers deferred after winning the coin toss and chose to put their defense on the field first, only to give up points. In all, they've allowed three opening-drive scores two for touchdowns and all when their defense started the game on the field (Houston won the toss and chose to receive).

Last year, the defense allowed three opening-drive touchdowns in 19 games.

"We are not coming out with the intensity that we need," Farrior said. "We have to be prepared for them giving us their best shot right out of the gate."

In the first two instances opening week against Baltimore and two weeks ago in Houston the opening drive set the tone for the rest of the game.

The Ravens scored in three plays and went on to rout to Steelers. Houston took nearly 11 minutes off the clock before scoring a touchdown.

"We can't do that anymore," nose tackle Chris Hoke said. "We have to come off of the bus firing."

A common denominator has been a failure to stop the run.

The Ravens' Ray Rice had a 36-yard run, the Texans' Ben Tate a 20-yarder and the Titans' Chris Johnson a 21-yarder in their respective opening series.

"Teams are doing a good job of preparing for us and scripting it up well," Farrior said. "They have a lot of running plays called and passing plays, play-action. Pretty much everything they are going to do in the game is what they do in that first series."

The Steelers have adjusted but only after the damage was done.

"It is something that we have to get corrected on Sunday and improve on to be successful," Farrior said.

Despite being a young team, Jacksonville has had success on opening drives this year. Twice in five games the Jaguars put together at least 10-play drives that resulted in Maurice Jones-Drew touchdown runs.

For the Jaguars to be successful in a game in which they are two-touchdown underdogs, they will have to play well early.

"It is something that gives you that confidence," Jones-Drew said. "We are a rhythm offense. If we get into a rhythm, we feel that we can play with anybody."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1adUcM6cF (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_761583.html#ixzz1adUcM6cF)

10-13-2011, 09:25 AM
There were some key penalties on that opening drive.

10-13-2011, 10:08 AM
Going into the attack mode and not playing vanilla defense early in games would help

10-13-2011, 11:22 AM
Going into the attack mode and not playing vanilla defense early in games would help

I agree. Teams know that we come out vanilla. They game plan for it. They come out with a lot of confidence on the very first play and it just builds from there. If we ran a blindside CB blitz the first play with press coverage on the other and an ILB stunting up the middle, we'd get a sack/strip/fumble half the time. And stuff the run the other half.