One thing that Dick LeBeau’s Pittsburgh Steelers defenses tended to be known for was its ability to overwhelm young quarterbacks with the variety and complexity of the looks that he would present them. Very rare was it that a team fielding a rookie quarterback would notch a victory against them.
Yesterday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin credited the New York Jets with being able to do the same against young quarterbacks this season, a fact of which he is weary, given that they are bringing in rookie undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges, making his fifth career start.
“It’s gonna be challenging, but particularly so when you have a young quarterback. If you look at what the Jets have done, particularly of late, the run that they’ve been on, I think their ability to get after young quarterbacks has been a catalyst for that”, he said. “The Washington game, the Giant game, it’s kind of been a springboard for them. They’ve gotten after some young quarterbacks in ways that they get after people”.
While the Jets have had a relatively rough go of it this season, they have been able to get themselves to 5-9 on the season, and have won four of their past six games, most recently a Thursday night stomping by the Baltimore Ravens, admittedly, who are the best team in the NFL.
Both Washington and New York fielded rookie quarterbacks in their games against the Jets. For the former, Dwayne Haskins completed only 19 of 35 pass attempts for 214 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, fumbling twice and being held to five rushing yards on four attempts.
On the other hand, for the Giants, Daniel Jones completed 26 of 40 attempts for 308 yards with four touchdowns passes to no interceptions. He did fumble three times as well, losing one of them, in a 34-27 loss. The Giants held the lead entering the fourth quarter, so it’s not as though it was stat-padding.
Regardless of the truth of the Jets’ dominance of rookie quarterbacks, the fact remains that they do have some talented players, and Tomlin singled one of them out. “Jamal Adams, can’t say enough about his tape. Impact player in the running game, in the passing game, in coverage, in blitzes”, he said.
“I think he’s got 6.5 sacks. I can’t remember the last time I’ve even seen a defensive back with a sack total like that. He’s very ball-aware, not only is he getting sacks, but he’s stripping the ball out and raking the ball out. He’s got two defensive touchdowns”.
It should go without saying that the Steelers can’t afford to take any opponent lightly, even if there might be an inclination to do so against the Jets. Especially given the fragile state of the offense, anything can happen on Sunday.