Blog Entry

Matchup breakdown: Steelers O vs. Packers D

Posted on: February 2, 2011 6:31 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 3:17 pm
R. Mendenhall (US Presswire)

Posted by Andy Benoit

In the AFC Championship, the Steelers surprised everyone by coming out running against the Jets. On paper, Pittsburgh’s banged-up offensive line was overmatched against New York’s third-ranked run defense. But on the field, the opposite proved true.

With Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey possibly out this Sunday (ankle/foot), one might think Pittsburgh would be inclined to come out throwing. After all, backup Doug Legursky has a noticeable lack of power, while Green Bay’s nose tackle B.J. Raji has a noticeable abundance of it.
But despite the Legursky-Raji mismatch, don’t be surprised if the Steelers once again rely on Rashard Mendenhall early on. Running the ball shortens the game and keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field. More than that, it decreases the number of times lumbering right tackle Flozell Adams has to fend off lightning pass-rusher Clay Matthews (Adams vs. Matthews is a mismatch that makes every member of the Steeler organization shudder; it’s hard to imagine the Steelers won’t concoct some form of tight end help for Adams.)

Early in the season, the Steeler offensive line and third down back Mewelde Moore struggled mightily with blitz identification. They got the pass-blocking issues in order down the stretch, but with two weeks to prepare, you have to figure Dom Capers will design at least a few new complicated zone exchanges and delayed A-gap blitzes.

What’s more, whether he’s blitzing or feigning a blitz, slot cornerback/rover Charles Woodson is the key to Green Bay’s pressure schemes. If it’s Woodson vs. Ben Roethlisberger in a presnap chess match, Steelers lose.

Super Bowl experience will have a pretty huge impact on this game as well. Here's Hines Ward on that subject:

Running the ball would ameliorate those unfavorable passing game matchups for the Steelers. But more than that, the Steelers may very well feel that they have an advantage against the Packer run defense anyway. Yes, Doug Legursky, left tackle Jonathan Scott and right guard Ramon Foster all lack the power necessary to generate downhill movement as run-blockers. But left guard Chris Kemoeatu doesn’t.

Kemoeatu is one of the most mobile blockers in football. When he gets to the second level and faces linebackers, he’s frighteningly nasty .The Packer defense did an excellent job at keeping inside linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk clean from blockers this season. (Why do you think the inexperienced Bishop and resoundingly average Hawk were the only two Packers to record 100-plus tackles?)

But the Steelers, who run two-tight end base personnel, could give those inside linebackers problems by shifting to three-receiver personnel (which would involve replacing Matt Spaeth with wideout Emmanuel Sanders). The Packers almost always use a 2-4-5 alignment in nickel defense. With only two downlinemen, Kemoeatu would have a clear path to Bishop or Hawk (and remember, in nickel, one of those inside ‘backers will be off the field). In that case, Mendenhall could run inside, or, if he’s lucky, get isolated on the edges against outside linebacker Erik Walden (an impressive athlete but very callow run-stopper).

Roethlisberger is Pittsburgh’s best playmaker, but the run game could very well be Pittsburgh’s best chance at a seventh Lombardi trophy.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:13 am

Matchup breakdown: Steelers O vs. Packers D

Just bought inside of your Rss, uncertain of only did it truthfully regardless that? Good claim in terms of.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:32 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 9, 2011 4:01 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jun 22, 2007
Posted on: February 6, 2011 2:48 pm

Matchup breakdown: Steelers O vs. Packers D

"and remember, in nickel, one of those inside 'backers will be off the field)."  No they won't. you just said in that previous sentence that the Packers run a 2-4-5 nickel, not a 3-3-5. Both inside linebackers will be on the field.

Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: February 2, 2011 8:44 pm

Matchup Breakdown Packers O vs. Steelers D

You know, unless I'm missing something huge this seems to be the Packers D versus the Steelers O. Obviously that's a matchup I want to read more about-especially as a Steelers fan. But c'mon, fix the title already... at least that way I'll know what to expect reading this thing. Is CBS a national sports outfit or a rural weekly???

Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: February 2, 2011 6:58 pm

Matchup Breakdown Packers O vs. Steelers D

The Steelers must run often and play complete ball control in order to slow the Packers. That's what the Bears did last two meetings and it's what Detroit did ( albeit with Rogers hurt ). I think the Packers know this and will stack the line against the run. There will be opportunities for the Steelers passing game, but the Packers can make plays with just their coverage personal. The Pack will do everything possible to make this a shootout and should have success against the Steelers coverage. Nelson and Jones will have a lot of opportunities to make plays. I expect the success of the halfback screen and dump-off pass in recent games will continue and loosen the Steelers zone blitz early as I expect another fast Packer start. This is an outcome that will make the Steelers more one dimensional than even the Bears became as the backs of the Steelers simply don't get very involved in the passing game. The Steelers will have success in the passing game, but I also see as many turnovers as touchdowns.

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