The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to stack some wins later today—after dinner, of course—against the Indianapolis Colts, whom they are looking to defeat for the third time in as many years. And this time, once again, they will not have to face Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been ruled out on a short week while he remains in the concussion protocol.
Because of that, you can probably anticipate that their defensive strategy may vary, even though they have talked all week as though they are preparing for Luck and only Luck. But they know now that he is not playing, and that Scott Tolzien most likely will.
When they played Luck’s backup last season, they did not send a barrage of blitzes to through him off his game. Instead, they dropped extra numbers into coverage to throw him off his game, and it worked. Tolzien is a different quarterback, but they may try the same strategy again.
Of course, it’s also true that the Colts have among the worst offensive lines in the league, which is why Luck has been sacked more than any other quarterback—35 times through 10 times, or exactly 3.5 sacks per game. So it will obviously be enticing for the Steelers to be opportunistic and capitalize on some pass-rushing opportunities.
Their running game, as with the Browns, is also lacking. They rank 24th in the league in total rushing yards, and are limited on explosive carries, or even carries of 10 yards or more. Luck makes up a good percentage of those runs, and his mobility will be missed for the Colts.
Their run defense, however, is just as bad as their run offense, as they also rank 24th in the league, allowing over 113 yards per game. The Steelers broke out their running game on the road on Sunday against the Browns, they may well be looking to do the same today against the Colts.
With safety Clayton Geathers out and cornerback Vontae Davis questionable with an ankle injury—which suggests that even if he does play, he will be at less than 100 percent, which would not be the first time he has played at less than full capacity against the Steelers—the passing game also, however, has to remain an enticing option.
Antonio Brown is probably not going to get a lot of assistance from the rest of this ragtag group of wide receivers, but he should still get his opportunities, as he always does. What I am most interested in seeing is what a ‘full-go’ looks like for Ladarius Green at tight end, a term that Todd Haley used to describe him after saying he has been on a pitch count.
Defensively, the thing I’m most curious about is simply how much Bud Dupree plays, since he saw just one snap on Sunday. Other than that, what kind of playing time, if any, does Robert Golden get on defense, after seemingly losing his starting job? Does he still have a role somewhere?