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 square off against the Tennessee Titans.
X Factor: Ryan Shazier
Admittedly, a sorta obvious pick. But guys, I am worried about that Titans’ offense. Like I already wrote about, they throw everything and the kitchen sink at you. It forces a defense to be disciplined and read their keys because Marcus Mariota and company will do everything they can to get you out of position. Heck, even the Chicago Bears had success doing this with a significantly worse offense.
By the way, Shazier was my X Factor for that Bears game too. He, along with the rest of that defense, struggled, and Chicago rolled up 200+ yards on the ground against them.
Shazier is the conductor of the defense. The buck stops with him. On a short week where the Titans are the more complex and varied offense, it’s a tougher task for Pittsburgh’s defense than Tennessee’s.
Beyond that, the Steelers have to be a better tackling team. Frankly, emulate what the Titans show defensively. Missed tackles is just going to let the Titans’ playmakers be all the more effective. Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray live off YAC while Delanie Walker is one of the most underrated tight ends in the NFL. Shazier leads the Steelers in missed tackles – yes, partly because he is so involved in plays, but we know he can be better. That 3rd down whiff along the sideline last week? That’s not a product of being a special player. That’s just not executing.
If he can continue to make the splash plays we’re accustomed to but be more consistent and sniff out the exotic things the Titans’ offense likes to do, they’ll have a chance to keep Tennessee in check and keep the win streak rolling.