Could go in a lot of different directions here and in a game like this, with the Pittsburgh Steelers understandably huge underdogs, they need all hands on deck.
But I’m going with Gilbert who could see a lot of Rob Gronkowski or failing that, Martellus Bennett. Both are matchup nightmares. As I’ve written and said a couple times before, I expect the Steelers to play a ton of dime personnel to try and combat the best they can the headaches New England offers.
Even with Ryan Shazier back, Gilbert is the Steelers’ best bet. He’s got size, 6’0 200, supreme athleticism, and more NFL experience than someone like Sean Davis. It is by no means an ideal matchup, Gronkowski still has several inches and 50 pounds on him, and Gilbert’s ability to tackle isn’t highly questionable.
It’s not about stopping Gronkowski as much as it is attempting to limit him. Especially in the red zone. New England is going to move the ball against this middling at best, reeling at worst, defense between the 20s. But the Steelers still have a strong red zone defense, the second best only behind Buffalo, and even in last week’s disaster, held Miami to just 2-6 there.
There can’t be the mess there was last year where twice on the goal line, Gronk was flexed out against Terence Garvin and whopped on him both times.
That’s how Pittsburgh will win. And where Gilbert where be needed the most, blanketing Gronkowski underneath when there isn’t the threat of him working downfield.
Playing dime the entire game probably isn’t what the Steelers would really like to do. But drastic times, drastic measures. If there’s any game Justin Gilbert can give them a return on their 6th round investment, it’s tomorrow.