It seems like it’s been a long time since the Pittsburgh Steelers’ last game, even though it has only been two weeks. That is the effect of an unscheduled bye week. They were meant to have played the undefeated Tennessee Titans last week, but thanks to a Covid-19 outbreak, the game did not happen as scheduled.
The train rolls on, however, or rather doesn’t because in actuality the Steelers aren’t going anywhere. Their past two games have been at Heinz Field and so too will their next two, including today’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, who are coming off of their first win of the season.
The focal point of this game has to be Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ passing game. Nobody has thrown more interceptions this season than Wentz. He has also been sacked the third-most times. No player in the NFL has had more negative plays so far this season.
And he is playing behind a novice left tackle who is a backup to a backup, a backup guard, and a right tackle who, while very good, is playing through injury, and may have to be spelled throughout the game to manage his injury.
The Steelers’ defensive front four should be salivating. Between T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Stephon Tuitt, and Cameron Heyward, they have already managed 8.5 sacks through three games, and there’s no reason to think they shouldn’t get two or three on Wentz today—perhaps with a strip sack mixed in.
Wentz has also been making bad decisions with the ball, sometimes because of pressure. But the majority of his interceptions have actually come while he wasn’t under pressure. The secondary in particular has to be alert and has to try to get a couple of interceptions today.
On the flip side, the offensive line is really going to be tested by the Eagles’ front, which now includes Javon Hargrave. This is the most complete and well-rounded defensive front the Steelers have faced so far, but at least they are healthy now—minus Zach Banner, of course.
The Steelers did not have the benefit of a true, full bye week because they spent Monday through Thursday preparing for the Titans, and then had the next three days off by mandate, so they didn’t get to work on fundamentals and things of that nature. In other words, don’t expect things to look much different from what we’ve seen in the first three weeks.
Roles should continue to expand, though. Eric Ebron has been getting more and more involved in the passing game with each week as Ben Roethlisberger builds up that rapport. Chase Claypool played over 60 snaps in the last game. Diontae Johnson is back from a concussion.
I think we will see more motion, and more of Anthony McFarland and Ray-Ray McCloud. The Steelers want to get more creative, but it has been a struggle through the process. This week may provide a good opportunity to expand their repertoire a bit.