As we will do every Saturday to get you ready for the week’s game, our X Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. Today, the first of the year. What will make or break the Pittsburgh Steelers as they take on the Cleveland Browns.
X Factor: Blitz Pickup
It’s impossible to put blitz pickup on just one player or even a unit. It’s a team job. The receivers to run hot routes and get open. Quarterback/center to identify and communicate looks/pressure. The rest of the line to execute and the backs to pick up anyone leftover.
As we pointed out in yesterday’s scouting report of the Browns’ defense, Gregg Williams is one of the most exotic, and aggressive defenses the Steelers will come across. While his work can be found around the league, it’s always hard to peg down what a new coach will do with his personnel. Williams is a good coach from that standpoint and good coaches always maximize the talent of the players they have.
For an offensive line that didn’t get a ton of reps together in camp, most of this group missing some measure of time, it can create problems early on. Even for a group that looks – and will be – as strong as this one.
The Steelers will lose this game if they kick their own butt. Put their offense in negative situations and can’t keep drives alive.
From 2012 to now, when the Steelers are sacked at least five times, they’re 2-6. And I don’t need to explain much about the correlation between sacks and wins anyway.
If the Steelers can counter the Browns’ blitzes like they’re capable of, they’ll rip off big play after big play. The Browns know it’s impossible to sit back on their laurels and expect to to handle the Steelers’ array of weapons. They’re going to be aggressive, blitz the secondary, and given what we’ve seen from Williams, play a lot of Cover 1 with rookie Jabrill Peppers often single high.
That’s a lot of talent who can win their matchups. One missed tackle and you can guarantee it’s a big gain…or touchdown.
Cleveland missing Myles Garrett is undoubtedly a good thing for the Steelers’ defense. But they’re going to be able to manufacture pressure even without because of their scheme. If the Steelers can stop that, they have the talent to win almost every individual matchup. And win the game with ease.