While this Pittsburgh Steelers team has not faced Jon Gruden in quite a long time, one individual whose coaching tendencies they are intimately familiar with from their staff would be their defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther, who joined Gruden’s staff this year after holding the same post with the Cincinnati Bengals for several years.
Guenther was also the Bengals’ linebackers coach before that, and even their special teams coordinator, so he is intimately familiar with what the Steelers like to do, particularly on offense. And he has watched quarterback Ben Roethlisberger work for a long, long time.
He praised Roethlisberger’s ability to get around for a man of his size in particular. “He’s a big guy and he can move around in the pocket. He’s run a couple times”, he said. “One time against Carolina, I think he ran for about 40 yards. He’s just elusive, and he’s a big guy to bring down. We got to wrap our arms, grab cloth on the way through on the rush and make sure we get our hands on him”.
Roethlisberger, for the record, did not round for about 40 yards earlier this year. It was 18 yards. In fact, he has never had a 40-yard run in his career. His longest run was 31 yards, and that was back in 2010. He has not had a run of 20 or more yards since. He averages a blistering 6.3 rushing yards per game for his career, but he does have his fourth-highest per-game average of his career this year at 7.8 yards. He has also only once before matched his three rushing touchdowns in 2018.
Of course nobody is going to be gameplanning for Roethlisberger’s scrambling ability beyond the line of scrimmage. What they will have to be worrying about down the field instead is Antonio Brown, who outright owns the league lead with 12 receiving touchdowns in 12 games in 2018.
“He’s a very good route runner. He’s good at the line of scrimmage, as far as getting off press”, Guenther said of the wide receiver. “He’s precise in and out of his routes. Obviously, he has good hands and he’s good after the catch. Again, very familiar with him as well and I got a lot of respect for those people over there. The coaching staff and the players, they are a good organization”.
The duo had their best game of the season last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, connecting on 10 of 13 targets for 154 yards and a 28-yard touchdown. Brown also had a 46-yard catch down to the one-yard line that set the offense up for their first score.
The Raiders, meanwhile have allowed a league-leading 29 passing touchdowns and an NFL-worst 8.2 net yards per pass attempt. This is despite seeing an NFL-low 345 pass attempts, though they’ve also faced the fifth-fewest plays overall. They also give up the fourth-most yards per rush in the league and allow opponents to score on 47.3 percent of their drives, the worst in the NFL.