This coming Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers defense will have their hands full trying to contain the Kansas City Chiefs two-headed rushing attack of running backs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis. If that’s not enough, they’ll also have to make sure that they contain Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who’s not afraid to take off with the football if under pressure on passing plays.
“He’s a guy that’s adept at creating positive out of negative, said Tomlin of Smith during his Tuesday press conference. “As protection or plays break down, his mobility is an asset for him. He buys time and throws the ball down the field and creates splash plays that way, but he also buys time and creates splash plays and positive plays for them with his legs.”
Through 14 games this season, Smith has rushed for 240 yards on 41 carries (5.85 ypc) when you subtract out his six kneel downs. As far as I can tell, 31 of those runs were scrambles. 11 times he’s tucked the football and ran on third downs and in total, 11 of his runs have moved the chains.
In the win over the Atlanta Falcons last week, the Steelers defense didn’t do a good job at containing quarterback Matt Ryan as he took off with the football three times in the game for a total of 27 yards. Two of those scrambles moved the chains with the last one coming on a third down with 13:19 left in the fourth quarter. That particular drive culminated in a touchdown and made it a one possession game.
In the game two weeks ago against the Cincinnati Bengals, quarterback Andy Dalton scored from 20 yards out around the right end on a simple read-option play.
In order to protect against Smith taking off this Sunday, the Steelers might want to think about having rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier on the field in nickel situations instead of Vince Williams, who is more of a straight-line player. Doing that would allow Lawrence Timmons to stay at the buck position where he can spy on Smith if he’s not blitzing.