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. What will make or break the Pittsburgh Steelers as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
X Factor: Defensive Line
It was too difficult to choose just one player along the defensive line as this week’s X-Factor. So I selected the entire group instead because this unit will essentially decide the Steelers’ success against the Jags.
As we wrote in yesterday’s scouting report, the Jags have an identity on offense. That isn’t to say they’re a high-powered unit, they surely aren’t, but they know how they want to approach each game. There’s value in that. Run the ball, control the clock, and above all, be physical. It’s a huge group, each starter listed at minimum 315 pounds and often, these guys play 20-30 pounds heavier than what the team site divulges.
And it’s a group that follows through. Cam Robinson and Jeremy Parnell are hulking tackles that will ragdoll guys around. And the interior group, though generally not household names, play with an appropriate chip on their shoulder.
With a pair of big, bruising running backs, it’s a run game that’s proven to be effective. The trio of Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Javon Hargrave will have to be as good as they have throughout the year. Stout at the point of attack, being able to make some splash plays, and certainly can’t miss any tackles.
Controlling the Jaguars’ run game is controlling their offense and the entire game. Shut it down, or at least contain it, and the Steelers will be in good position to win the game. It’s a simple concept and yes, one I know we’ve repeated time and time again but sometimes football doesn’t need to be about the insane nuances of the game.
Sometimes it’s just about blocking and tackling. The charge this week is to not get blocked and to rack up the tackles.