What is yoga? Yoga is, according to Google, “a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or discipline.” The purpose is to achieve higher consciousness in order to let go of all negative emotions and feelings. I decided why not try our own yoga class here on The Depot and with the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday, there is no better debut class than letting go of last season’s home playoff loss to the Jaguars. So, take a deep breath and get ready to rid yourself of all negative emotions tied to last season’s loss and understand why the outcome should be different this time around.
Welcome to Yinzer Yoga.
In the post season defeat to the Jaguars, the Steelers allowed 164 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns. Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette ran haywire for 109 yards and three touchdowns himself. While it may hurt to remember Fournette gashing the Steelers at will, it’s unlikely to happen again. Fournette has been dealing with a hamstring injury all season, and in his first game back after missing the last four, the Jaguars running back rushed for 53 yards on 24 carries, good for 2.2 yards per carry. As a team, the Jaguars have not exceeded over 100 yards rushing since their week five loss to the Chiefs and they are now running into a Steelers’ defense that is allowing only 90.8 yards rushing per game.
A closer look at the personnel will also tell us why we should not expect the Jaguars offense and run game to run rampant on the Steelers’ defense. In that post season loss, the Steelers started three players who are either not with the team anymore or no longer a starter. Those three being cornerback Artie Burns, free safety Mike Mitchell and linebacker Sean Spence. Spence, who was signed off the couch a month prior to the game, logged 89% of the defensive snaps in the loss, while linebacker Vince Williams only logged 82% of the snaps. This Sunday, the Steelers will feature linebackers who were not previously unemployed, as they will feature a combination of Williams again, Jon Bostic, who has been an underrated acquisition and the athletic L.J. Fort.
Remember the big-bad Jaguars’ pass defense that intercepted Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger six times in two matchups last season? Well, the Jaguars pass defense is still allowing the fewest passing yards in the NFL (200.6 yards per game) just as they were last season (169.9 yards per game) but their ability to create turnovers has vanished. The same Jaguars who finished second in the NFL in interceptions last season with 21 has just five this season, good for 24th in the NFL. A large reason for this is the Jaguars’ lack of consistent pass rush. What was once known as ‘Sacksonville’, as the Jaguars were second in the NFL with 55 sacks last season has become ‘Sacklessville’ as the they have limped to just 19 sacks so far this season, sixth fewest in the NFL.
Besides, the Jaguars saw what Roethlisberger did to their number one ranked pass defense last January, torching their secondary for 469 yards. Imagine what he could do Sunday with a clean pocket.
Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles was also able to navigate his offense to a perfect 5/5 in the red zone last January. This should come as no surprise as the Steelers’ red zone defense ranked 28th in the NFL last season but has improved mightily this year. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler has his red zone defense ranked 11th in the NFL and they have been red hot over their last three games, allowing just over 40% of opponent red zone attempts to be converted into touchdowns. The Jaguars’ red zone offense has also nose dived from second in the league last season (64%) to 28th this season (45%).
A repeat to the tune of last season’s playoff embarrassment is highly unlikely for the points mentioned above. Though many of the players remain the same, both teams are certainly different and because of that, the result is also likely to be different. So, take a deep breath, relax as the 6-2-1 Steelers head to Jacksonville to take on the 3-6 Jaguars.