Steelers Vs. Jaguars Game Rewind – First Half

By Alex Kozora

Observations from the Pittsburgh Steelers Week Five 17-9 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

First Half

– Kick return coverage unit. Front five. Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas, Vince Williams, Antwon Blake, and Terence Garvin. Michael Palmer/Matt Spaeth continue to run as the next two up. Cody Wallace returned to his starting part on the wedge, replacing Stephon Tuitt. Wallace was paired with Will Johnson. LeGarrette Blount was the upback for Dri Archer.

– Steelers continue to start off games with a packaged play. Run/pass option with the pass being a screen to Antonio Brown on the first snap of the game.


– Noted it on Twitter though Dave Bryan makes a good point. The screen to Darrius Heyward-Bey snuffed out for no gain had to have been a designed tunnel screen with DHB working back to the ball instead of a smoke. There’s no way Ben thinks throwing a screen with the cornerback rolled up like this is a good idea. Especially after identifying man coverage by ghost motioning Antonio Brown.


Seeing Kelvin Beachum release into the flat is another indicator that Heyward-Bey was designed to work back to the ball. Tunnels aren’t something the Steelers run often but I’ve seen it in camp and games to know it’s in the playbook. And that appears to be the call here. Lacked the execution, obviously.

Markus Wheaton’s drop on the first drive. Maybe part of the reason why he had such a quiet day. Tape didn’t really show he lost focus but I’ve heard he’s the kind of guy you need to get involved early. And if he struggles, he has trouble maintaining focus.

– Same play. Ramon Foster beat by Sen’Derrick Marks, who has a solid punch against the guard. Thought for a moment it was going to be a long day for Foster but he rebounded well and held Marks in check the rest of the day.


– Punt coverage. Shamarko Thomas and Antwon Blake gunners. Robert Golden the upback. Others: Michael Palmer, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, and Will Allen.

– Jacksonville’s first play. Ask both tight ends to cover Jason Worilds and Arthur Moats, a severe mismatch. Both defenders win easily and get pressure on Blake Bortles.


Also love how William Gay is able to defend this double-move, an aspect of the Jags offense Dick LeBeau was quick to point out as something they use a ton.

Flat foot read for Gay, meaning he doesn’t have as big of a cushion as usual.


But still able to react to the double-move, not let the receiver swap hips, turn/run, and nearly pick the pass off. Ran the route better than the receiver did.


– Didn’t make the tackle but check out the push Cameron Heyward generates working against Luke Joeckel. It’s a run, short-yardage, a situation where Joeckel is supposed to be able to fire off the ball. But Heyward drives him back. Impressive.


– Well put together play from Sean Spence. Third and long so Spence naturally is getting depth. Screen to the back and Spence is able to drive on the ball, work under the lineman, and make the open field tackle. If he doesn’t there’s potential for the back having a lot of space ahead of him.

– Formation I’d like to see more often from the Steelers. Heath Miller split out with Matt Spaeth lined up as an in-line blocker.


– Simple smoke screen. All Miller needs to do is shove the corner. Perhaps he’s waiting for the catch so he doesn’t get called for holding but he has to be able to execute. Can’t and the corner dips under, disrupting the play. Incomplete.


– Hate this play from Cortez Allen. Tackling has been an issue for 28 throughout the season. Screen, number two receiver cracks Troy Polamalu, leaving Allen as the run support defender.


His tackle attempt is high and predictably misses. What could have been 3rd and 4 turns into 3rd and 1. Ugh.


– Love Spence’s close on the ball in coverage. Disruptive. Plays through the hands of the receiver and forces the incompletion.



– Punt return. Jammers. Brice McCain and B.W. Webb. Others: Antwon Blake, Will Allen, Dri Archer, Terence Garvin, William Gay, Robert Golden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Shamarko Thomas, and Antonio Brown as the return man.

– Quick note of the play I did in this week’s video. Fold block between Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro on Le’Veon Bell’s 29 yard run. DeCastro down blocks the one tech while Pouncey pulls to the SAM. 11 personnel with two receivers to the left, away from the run, pulls a defender out of the box. Creates more of a running lane. A+ on play design and execution.

– Steelers route concept is mirrored to each side. Would prefer the throw to go to the side without the nickel corner. Meaning, hitting Justin Brown to the other side instead of the out route to the offense’s right side. Pass falls incomplete.



Ben Roethlisberger’s long scramble that resulted in a 23 yard gain to Antonio Brown down to the Jaguars’ four. Four man rush and the Steelers give Ben a ton of time. 6.15 seconds.

– Again, don’t like the call for the screen on the following play near the goalline. Cornerback won’t play with depth because there’s nothing vertical to protect. Ends up going for no gain.


– Kick coverage from left to right. Cortez Allen, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas, Terence Garvin, Vince Williams, Shaun Suisham, Will Allen, Will Johnson, Antwon Blake, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and B.W. Webb.

Following Thomas’ injury, Webb moved from R5 to L3 with William Gay taking Webb’s spot.

– Asking Shaun Suisham to pooch kick on the third attempt following the two offsides was a good idea. Bunch of tired legs running down the field again is asking a lot. And on the second return, there was a pretty big lane cleared.

Side note: Will Allen is terrible at running down kicks. Getting Ryan Shazier back will put Sean Spence back on the kick coverage unit, taking Allen off.

– Jacksonville runs a smash on Allen Hurns toe tap catch along the right sideline. Cortez Allen needs to get depth in Cover 3.



– Justin Brown fails to get in front of the DB on this swing to Dri Archer. Archer breaks the tackle but it pins him to the sideline and he fails to establish to get momentum.



– Really like Kelvin Beachum in pass protection here. Shows proper bend, arm extension, and lateral movement to run the end up the arc. About as good as this gets.




– Also really like Will Johnson’s effort here as a receiver split out wide. And why he should be used more, situationally. He isn’t the first read, it’s Heath Miller down the seam off playaction (pull the guard to sell the run).

But he runs like he’s the primary read. And love how he runs back to the football to make the catch. Extremely smooth route here. His former wide receiver self kicking in.

– Not too many 250 pound running backs that can cut laterally like this. LeGarrette Blount is one of them.



– Always in favor of putting Le’Veon Bell in space with virtually anyone. He’s going to win.

– Scramble drill but Ben Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown late in the corner of the end zone. AB runs out of room and is forced to stop, allowing the corner to make a play on the ball.


– Veteran savvy from Miller here, though. Slides down into the window after Roethlisberger’s pump fake. Makes the catch in traffic.



– William Gay doesn’t carry No. 1. 18 yard gain. Nice open field tackle by Mike Mitchell.


– Rub concept by Jacksonville. Slant/flat by Jacksonville. Brice McCain forced to work over the top and it’s an easy completion.



– Will Allen did play two snaps, replacing Mike Mitchell after his above open field tackle.

– Don’t care if he was offsides. Love Troy being Troy.


– On back-to-back plays on Jacksonville’s drive before the half, Brett Keisel dropped into coverage. Back-to-back plays.



– And twice inside the 20, the Jags ran double-moves. Bortles missed long on both.

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