View Full Version : Steelers game plan this Sunday is stop Maurice Jones-Drew

10-14-2011, 03:32 AM
Steelers game plan is stop Jones-Drew

By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer dlolley@observer-reporter.com


PITTSBURGH - If a grade were given to the Steelers' run defense through the first five games, a C-minus seems appropriate.

For a franchise used to doing A-plus work against the run, below-average work isn't acceptable.

Pittsburgh (3-2) fared better against the run during last week's 38-17 win over Tennessee, limiting the Titans to 66 yards rushing, including 51 yards on 14 carries by Chris Johnson.

The Steelers face another big test Sunday when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars and running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

With 476 rushing yards and 553 total, Jones-Drew has accounted for more than 40 percent of Jacksonville's offensive output. Only Baltimore's Ray Rice and Chicago's Matt Forte have accounted for a larger percentage of their team's total offense.
Knowing Jones-Drew is going to get the football doesn't mean the Steelers will stop him. Against Baltimore, Rice totaled 149 yards during a season-opening 35-7 victory.

"You look at some other guys that make up big portions of their teams' offense, like (Minnesota's) Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, it doesn't make those guys any easier to defend," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "So we are not going into this thing with the mindset that they are going to be easy to defend because we know who their primary ball carrier is going to be."

Like the diminutive Rice, Jones-Drew, who is listed at 5-7, uses his stature to his advantage.

"He's not little. He's just short, compact and powerful," said Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood. "There's a lot of missed tackles and guys getting run over. That's what we're going to have to focus on this week, wrapping up and making sure everyone runs to the ball.

"Once he gets low, he's lower than an ant's belly. Tall guys like myself and others, we definitely have to get low and make sure we wrap up and make sure he goes back the other way, not moving forward."

Hood will make his fourth consecutive start for the Steelers at defensive end. The first two came in place of Brett Keisel at right end. This week, he'll make his second consecutive start in place of Aaron Smith at left end. Smith is out with a sprained foot.

Hood played more effectively on the left side, where he started 12 games, including the playoffs, in place of Smith last year.

"It's a comfort thing," Hood said. "Right side, you've got to get used to it. When you don't practice it that much, and you play primarily on the left side, you get more comfortable on the left side.

"It's the same assignment; you just have to hear the calls. You have to watch hand placement because that can be different in game situations."

Not having to focus so much on the different position allowed Hood to focus more on his assignment rather than his hand placement.

Linebacker James Farrior noticed the difference, not just with Hood, but with the Steelers defense as a whole.

"I think guys were more focused on where they needed to be and more focused on an attention to detail," Farrior said. "I think that's what got us over."

If they come through with an A-plus performance this week, it would be a positive step in improving the final grade.

Odds and end zones

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after throwing five touchdown passes against the Titans. ... Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (shoulder), defensive tackle Casey Hampton, linebackers James Harrison (eye) and Jason Worilds (quad), guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee) and running back Mewelde Moore (ankle) did not practice Wednesday.

http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/spo ... fense-Hood (http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/sports11/10-13-2011-Steelers-run-defense-Hood)

10-14-2011, 03:14 PM
the latest Bill Cowher rumor, this one courtesy of Gerry Dulac:

@gerrydulac 1 hour ago via Twitter for iPhone

Latest rumor in Jacksonville: Bill Cowher bought a house in Marsh Landing and will replace Jack Del Rio as the Jaguars new head coach.

http://twitter.com/#!/gerrydulac/status ... 0959987712 (http://twitter.com/#!/gerrydulac/status/124870040959987712)

10-14-2011, 03:51 PM
the latest Bill Cowher rumor, this one courtesy of Gerry Dulac:

@gerrydulac 1 hour ago via Twitter for iPhone

Latest rumor in Jacksonville: Bill Cowher bought a house in Marsh Landing and will replace Jack Del Rio as the Jaguars new head coach.

http://twitter.com/#!/gerrydulac/status ... 0959987712 (http://twitter.com/#!/gerrydulac/status/124870040959987712)

Hasn't he also been among those to first report the other Cowher rumors too? I guess he doesn't worry too much about credibility.

10-14-2011, 08:33 PM

Running backs will be in spotlight Sunday

October 14th, 2011

One streak will depend on another Sunday when Jacksonville visits Heinz Field.

The Jaguars come into the 1 p.m. game an odd combination of heavy underdog and Steelers nemesis.

Jacksonville has won the last three games it has played at Heinz Field, dating back to 2005. For that streak to continue, the Jaguars need Maurice Jones-Drew to exceed 80 rushing yards for a sixth consecutive game.

If Jones-Drew can became the third back to go over 100 yards this season against the Steelers and score a couple of times the Jaguars have a chance of pulling the upset.

Short but stout, Jones-Drew is reminiscent of Baltimore’s Ray Rice with his stature and all-around skills.

“But (Jones-Drew) has his own style,” Steelers free safety Ryan Clark said, after agreeing that the two backs are similar. “I think he’s a little bit tougher than Ray Rice. Ray Rice has a little more scatback in him than Jones-Drew does.”

The Steelers’ running backs also bear watching Sunday.

Rashard Mendenhall will start, and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Thursday that the fourth-year veteran is still the Steelers’ feature back. But Arians also left a little wiggle room when it comes to the division of labor between Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, saying that that Steelers wouldn’t “overwork” the former since he is returning from a hamstring injury.

Here is my take on the situation at running back: Redman has earned more carries, but why are some fans so quick to want to dump Mendenhall? He has played all of four games this season.


The same guy that some have soured on helped carry the Steelers’ offense the first four games last season while Ben Roethlisberger was out. And Mendenhall quietly had one of the better seasons in Steelers history by a running back.

What he has done this season -– or what he hasn’t done -– is not enough of a sample size for me to say that the Steelers need a major shake-up at running back.

– Scott Brown

http://blog.triblive.com/steel-mill/201 ... ht-sunday/ (http://blog.triblive.com/steel-mill/2011/10/14/running-backs-will-be-in-spotlight-sunday/)

10-15-2011, 01:44 AM
Jones-Drew paces Jags

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Career highlights

Category (Jaguars franchise rank)

Rushing yards: 5,724 (2nd)

Total yards: 7,890 (3rd)

All-purpose yards: 10,073 (3rd)

Receiving: 242 catches (4th)

2011 statistics

Category (AFC ranking)

Rushing: 476 yards (3rd in AFC)

Attempts: 96 (2nd)

Runs of more than 10 yards: 15 (1st)

Maurice Jones-Drew spent time the past few years trying to figure out how NASCAR drivers generate unfathomable speeds in the unforgiving corners of storied Daytona International Speedway.

The Jacksonville Jaguars' diminutive running back discovered it takes immeasurable talent to roar almost effortlessly around the racetrack in pursuit of a checkered flag.

Jones-Drew has the talent and the numbers -- 476 rushing yards this season -- but the Jaguars' offense has been lapped, even though the two-time Pro Bowler is the NFL's fourth-leading rusher.

The Jaguars won their season opener, 16-14, against the Tennessee Titans. But they have spun their wheels in losing four straight, mostly because the offense hasn't generated enough points to mount fourth-quarter challenges.

Jacksonville, which handed the reins to rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert after ousting David Garrard shortly after the final exhibition game, are last in the NFL in total offense (270.6 yards) and passing yards per game (150).

As a result, the Jaguars are averaging only 11.8 points per game. Jones-Drew is certain Jacksonville has enough talent to turn things around against the Steelers (3-2) on Sunday at Heinz Field. But he didn't appear overly confident earlier this week.

"As an offense, we are just not where we want to be," Jones-Drew said. "Before we can go and worry about the Pittsburgh defense and how they are going to attack us, we have to fix and be confident in what we are going to do, and go out and execute it.

"That whole (Steelers) defense is full of game-breakers. They do a great job of flying to the ball. The more I keep talking about them, the worse it's starting to sound."

The Jaguars are trying to get healthy against a defense that suffocated Tennessee in a 38-17 victory. But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is hoping his defense doesn't drop its collective hands against Jones-Drew, who figured prominently in Jacksonville winning four of the past five meetings between the teams, including a 31-29 win in a 2008 AFC Wild Card game.

"(Jones-Drew) has great vision, power and speed," Tomlin said. "He's not small; he's just short. He has built-in leverage. We've had issues, like many others, with him in the past."

Still, the Jaguars must lean on an unpolished quarterback who is navigating his way through the playbook.

"We don't expect them to do a lot of downfield passing," said linebacker James Farrior, who had 13 tackles last Sunday. "We expect more screen plays.

"We know Jones-Drew is going to touch the ball the majority of the time. We've been looking at the positives they have and the success they've had with certain plays."

Things haven't worked out well when Jones-Drew doesn't handle the ball, as the Jaguars' offense has received little or nothing out of its passing game. Clearly, the Jaguars are experiencing the consequences of cutting loose Garrard. It was a familiar tactic, one Jacksonville used to split with Steelers' injured quarterback Byron Leftwich.

"It's a big deal when you cut your starting quarterback, but that's not an excuse at all," Jones-Drew said. "We have to be able to go out there and make plays. Obviously, not having Gabbert here in the offseason, working on timing the routes, and throughout training camp was pretty tough. We are having some type of growing pains."

Still, the heavily favored Steelers insists they aren't dropping their guard.

"We will approach them like they are a Super Bowl-caliber team," said defensive end Ziggy Hood. "We can't take them lightly because that's all it takes for a team to get hot."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1aopKxf5m (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_761979.html#ixzz1aopKxf5m)