Picked it up from Steeler Fury...in depth matchup analysis...honestly written
The Steelers are 2-0...I have zero respect for the Texans or Browns; I viewed both teams as “losing teams”(less then 8 wins) entering the season. The Steelers travel to the city of “Brotherly Love” as 3 point underdogs in a very hostile environment...I believe the Steelers must come out on fire in all three aspects of the game (Offense, Defense, Special teams) to eliminate the rowdy Philadelphia crowd. I have gone back and forth all week about this game…On paper the Eagles match up very well with the Steelers…Attacking defense….Mobile QB with a strong arm…Superstar multi- purpose half back…Three great corners…Mammoth Oline…Defensive line rotation of 8 quality players…The Steelers better bring there “A” game this week or they could be sent back to Western PA with there first defeat and plenty of questions about the future.
Did you know?
Pittsburgh’s last win in Philadelphia… Oct. 24, 1965.
The Steelers have won 13 of their past 15 games against teams in the NFC.
The Steelers rank first in the AFC and second in the NFL with a (+4) turnover ratio.
Steelers with the Ball
The Eagles have the league's top run defense and rank 11th in total defense. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson emphasizes pressure to create turnovers…This is without a doubt the best defense the Steelers have faced in 08. The Eagles have two quick fireplug defensive tackles in Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley…The Eagles slant and run defensive line games as much as any team in the NFL. The Eagles defensive ends are smallish up field players…Left Defensive end Trent Cole is an elite pass rusher who will make plays in the run game at a high rate for such an undersized player…Darren Howard has dropped about twenty pounds and looks like the dominant player he once was in New Orleans. Right End Juqua Parker plays with great leverage in the run game…He is very under rated playing the run…He makes his living getting up field attacking the passer… The Eagles linebackers are young, big, and quick…All three players can be tricked…I view them as better athletes than football players. Middle Linebacker Stewart Bradley runs like a deer straight line…He struggles to read blocking assignments…He is awful when he has to open his hips and run with a back or TE. Will Linebacker Omar Gaither is a decent player…He can cover ground in coverage…He will flow to the ball and make some plays from the backside of formations in the run game…He struggles to disengage from blockers…He will take false steps in both the passing and run game. Sam linebacker Chris Gocong is an enigma…He can come up field and make plays against the run…He will beat most Te’s in the running game…He is a great pass rusher. He is awful in coverage…He reads and reacts as slow as any linebacker in the NFL. The Eagles safeties suck… Free Safety Brian Dawkins is done. Strong safeties Sean Considine and Quinton Mikell are glaring weak links of this defense.
Bruce Arians needs to call a great game…He must dictate matchups and attack the Eagles defense. The Steelers must run the ball when it matters…I expect Arians to come out throwing the ball…I believe Ben’s shoulder is fine. The Eagles will challenge the Steelers Wr’s at the line of scrimmage…The Steelers must complete some balls over the top of the coverage…The Steelers offense must get the respect of the Eagles defense early in the game. The run game will come…It may take time for the run game to develop…Arians can not stop attacking with the pass. The Steelers offensive line has to handle blitz pickup and passing off of rushers better…Ben is taking far too many shots…The Eagles have speed all over the field…The big boys upfront can’t have any brain farts this week. The Skill position players must make plays for their quarterback.
Marvel Smith and Trent Cole/Darren Howard in the run game should be a huge advantage for the Steelers…The only way the Steelers can take advantage of this match up is if they get the Eagles outside linebackers blocked with the Tight Ends…Matt Spaeth, Heath Miller, and Sean McHugh must win matchups at the line of scrimmage if the Steelers expect to run the ball to the perimeter of the Eagles defense. Chris Kemoeatu and Brodrick Bunkley could be interesting… This writer really likes Kemo a lot in this matchup…Bunkley is quick but he relies on his power to beat blocks…Kemo is nasty and he wins most matchups in a phone booth in the run game. Justin Hartwig will be forced to keep his head on a swivel this week…The Eagles slant and blitz as much as any defense in the NFL...I hate the Mike Patterson Kendoll Simmons matchup from a Steelers perspective…Patterson owned Leonard Davis of the Cowboys last week…Davis couldn’t get a hand on him…The Steelers must find a way to get Patterson blocked or running the ball between the tackles could be an adventure. Willie Colon and Juqua Parker is one of those key matchups to watch…Colon has improved in the run game…Parker just beats blocks…Parker is under sized …He doesn’t stay blocked…He hustles and fights to the echo of the whistle. I expect the Eagles corners up in bump coverage against the Steelers Receivers…The Steelers Receivers must take the fight to the Eagles corners in the run game…I could see Parker or Mendenhall hitting a few big runs(60 Yards +) if the Steelers catch the Eagles in a blitz or a stunt and the Steelers manage to block the second level.
The keys to the Steelers running the ball will be simple. Eliminate penetration by the Eagles defensive tackles, The Steelers Tight Ends must win a majority of the matchups against outside linebackers, and Arians must attack with the passing game to back the Eagles off the line of scrimmage.
One formation I promise everyone they will see from the Steelers this week; Single Back, Two Tight Ends, Two Wrs…Heath Miller split out. That will force the Eagles to play a linebacker or Safety across from Miller. The Steelers will try to run out of this formation a ton… If Matt Spaeth can down block one of the Eagles undersized defensive ends…That allows the Steelers to double the Eagles play side defensive tackle…The back breaks one tackle and he is off to the races.
I believe the Eagles have an advantage in every matchup across the line. Marvel Smith struggled last year with Elvis Dumervil…I view Trent Cole and Dumervil as very similar players…Ultra quick players who explode off the ball. Smith must get out of his stance and he must keep his feet moving or Cole will leave him grabbing air. Over the past two weeks I have picked up on a bad habit from Kemo in pass protection…He will lunge at the defender over extending which leads to balance issues…Kemo must get out of his stance and he must land his punch…When Kemo locks on; the battle is over. As I previously stated Hartwig must keep his head on a swivel…The Eagles will come from all over the field…Hartwig will be forced to help Simmons and Kemo but he still must be alert to the Eagles blitz packages…Kendoll Simmons is in big trouble with Patterson…Patterson is super quick and strong…He has great technique and he can guess the snap count as good as any defensive tackle in the league. Juqua Parker is a speed rusher with under rated strength who I expect to give Colon fits off the edge.
The Steelers offensive line must have there s@!t together…They must read the blitz and pass off rushers to the correct man…Ben can help out by varying his count…That retard Arians can help by having the play into Ben with more then 15 seconds on the play clock so he has time too vary the snap count.
Ben must protect the ball…He must throw the ball on time…I would not be surprised to see Ben sting the Eagles by pulling down the ball and running for a few first downs. Ben is the franchise…The Steelers will need to pass the ball early in the game…I would love to take a shot down field first play of the game
Parker and Mendenhall need to run behind there pads…One cut and attack the hole….They must protect the ball…I believe the Steelers run game is close to hitting a big play...Mendenhall is going to do something special this week…Call it a hunch
Miller Spaeth McHugh Davis….Keys to the running game….Often overlooked…They need to come up big in this game…They must block their asses off. They must take advantage of opportunities in the passing game...Miller should abuse both safeties.
Holmes Ward Washington…Beat the jam... Run clean routes…Catch the ball…Take it to the house. Beat the s@!t out of the Eagles corners in the running game.
If the Steelers control the line of scrimmage; I see no defense that can stop the weapons on this offense.
Eagles with the ball
The Eagles version of the West Coast offense is predicated on creating mismatches in the passing game…(The Eagles move Brian Westbrook all over the field and he makes plays)…The Eagles have the biggest offensive line in football…They do not pound the run…They actually have passed the ball 65% of the time over the past few seasons. The Eagles have Brian Westbrook…He is the ultimate mismatch…He is a great tailback who runs routes and catches the ball like a wide receiver…Westbrook also does a very nice job in blitz pick up…Westbrook is the ultimate 3 down back. Desean Jackson a rookie wide receiver from Cal has made his mark on this league in two games…After you look past the hot dog fumble on Monday Night Football you see a vertical threat with back to back 100 yard receiving games. Eagles quarterback Donavon McNabb is a great talent who manages to screw things up at critical times…McNabb is still very mobile…He has a cannon for an arm…At times he will struggle with accuracy…He is a major threat throwing and running the ball….McNabb is also 245 pounds and he will break a lot of tackles…There is a common theme to these three players…They are the major weapons of the Eagles offense…And they must be punished….The Steelers defense must smoke these players every chance they get. The Eagles have a few complimentary weapons in Tight Ends LJ Smith and Brent Celek and Wide Receivers Reggie Brown Jason Avant and Greg Lewis…None of these players concern me...The Steelers can not allow Brian Westbrook and Desean Jackson any plays in the vertical passing game…The Steelers must pressure and punish Donavon McNabb.
Eagles Run Game
Eagles left tackle Tra Thomas is a quality player when healthy…Mike Tomlin has not named his starter at right defensive end…I’m going to guess Nick Eason…Thomas is a far better pass protector then run blocker at this point of his career…Eason struggled last year when he was forced into the starting lineup…The Steelers were better prepared for an injury to the defensive line this year with the late off season addition of Orpheus Roye…I expect the Steelers to rotate Eason and Roye at Right defensive end and Aaron Smith and Travis Kierschke at Left defensive end. Eagles Right Tackle Jon Runyan was a beast…Age and injuries have robbed Runyan of his ability to maul in the run game…Don’t get me wrong Runyan is still a very good run blocker…At one time he just dominated the line of scrimmage…Aaron Smith and Runyan should be a war in the run game….The key match up to look for is Casey Hampton and Jamal Jackson…If Jackson can block Hampton without help the Steelers defense may be in trouble…Jackson could not handle Cowboys Nose tackle Jay Ratliff and it’s part of the reason the Eagles lost the game to the Cowboys…Hampton must continue his league tour of destruction. Eagles Right Guard Shawn Andrews left the Cowboys game with back issues…He has not practiced this week…I expect Andrews will be out this Sunday…He will be replaced by Max Jean Gilles (The same player who late hit and injured Ryan Mundy in the pre season) Gilles is a massive man who does a nice job in a phone booth, but really struggles when he has to play in space. Eagles Left Guard Todd Herremans is a poor man’s Eric Steinbach…He is a very good pass blocker…He can get to the second level and pick off linebackers…He is the most agile player on the Eagles line.
*Update*....Mike Tomlin has named Travis Kierschke the starter to replace injured right defensive end Brett Kiesel
The Steelers defensive line must win the matchups at the line of scrimmage or they must force double teams to allow the linebackers to run to the ball…Westbrook will dance around looking for a hole…The Steelers must maintain gap integrity at all times. The Eagles offensive line is very dirty…I saw at least 10 penalties that were not called on Monday Night. The Steelers front seven must beat blocks and play fast.
Westbrook is spelled by Lorenzo Booker a speedy shifty runner and Correll Buckhalter a tough insider runner…Booker is a threat to break a big run…Buckhalter is a grinder.
The Steelers inside linebackers must tackle…The Steelers outside linebackers must set the edge and make plays.
Eagles Passing Game
Donavan McNabb runs hot and cold…He can make throws all over the field if he is given time. The Steelers must pressure McNabb and force him into mistakes…The Eagles tackles struggled with the Cowboys Outside Linebackers last week…Tra Thomas is in big trouble this week with James Harrison…Harrison’s strength is very under rated…Harrison has added a nice spin move and inside rip to his pass rushing repertoire…Todd Herremans should have no problems with Roye Eason or Kierschke…I would not be surprised if the Steelers had some success with Hoke or Aaron Smith against Eagles center Jamal Jackson…Max Jean Gilles is a fat uncoordinated sloth who must be exposed in pass pro…Lamar Woodley embarrassed Jon Runyan a few times during the pre season…Woodley should pressure McNabb all game long…I believe the Eagles are going to be forced to keep Te’s in to help the tackles in pass pro.
Reggie Brown is expected back this week…Brown is nothing special…He runs decent routes…He has decent hands…The Steelers corners should have no problems covering him…. Desean Jackson scares me…He has elite speed and he runs very good routes…The rest of the Eagles Wide Receivers are average players…Baskett, Lewis, and Avant…Brian Westbrook is a huge part of the Eagles passing game…He catches screens, flares, He runs wheel routes and “go routes” out of the offensive backfield…He lines up in the slot and runs any route a wide receiver runs…The Steelers must account for Jackson and Westbrook every down…At times I would man up Troy on Brian Westbrook…At times I would man up a corner on Westbrook if he is lined up in the slot.
The Steelers corners must make plays on the ball. The Steelers safeties must send a message…Catching the ball is hazardous to your health
The Steelers defense must attack the ball… They must play Fast and Smart
Cover the kicks…Catch the ball…Don’t turn it over.