The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Game Edition – How will the Steelers’ tackles fare against the duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb?
The Steelers had a nice, albeit brief, period about a decade ago in which they could count on getting double-digit sacks from both edges courtesy of James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. For three straight seasons between 2008 and 2010, they combined for at least 20 sacks, including 16 and 11.5, respectively, in 2008, followed by 10 and 13.5, and then 10.5 and 10. They each had nine in 2011 in spite of the fact that they both missed at least five games, but that’s as far as it went. In 2012, they literally combined for 10 sacks between them even though they each played in 13 games.
The Denver Broncos are looking as though they are just at the beginning of their own period of edge-rushing dominance with All-Pro Von Miller, who already has 10 sacks this season once again, and top-five draft pick Bradley Chubb, leading all rookies with nine sacks.
Their next task will be to go up against one of the top pass-blocking offensive lines in the league, however, in the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger has only been sacked 14 times this season, some of which have been on him, and he has been pressured less frequently than any other quarterback.
But there is the chance that a rookie will be making his first start at right tackle in Chukwuma Okorafor, which would be the third different player to start there this season. And making your first start at high altitude against an elite pass rusher is less than ideal.
The Jacksonville Jaguars did a good job of pressuring Roethlisberger last week without having to blitz, and the line was often given about as much as it can handle, even if they only gave up two sacks—plus a few hits. This figures to be another difficult task, even if they don’t have the same back-end coverage as Jacksonville.