The Pittsburgh Steelers, for the second week in a row, have a premiere edge rusher to go up against and to plan for. This last week, it was J.J. Watt with the Houston Texans, whom they were able to handle surprisingly well, considering they are on their backup right tackle, technically.
The next assignment is Jadeveon Clowney, who only recently signed with the Tennessee Titans but has been an impact player. While he has not registered a sack yet, he has five quarterback hits and two tackles for loss, in addition to a pass defensed, and they will have to plan to protect against him and respect his talents.
“Obviously, up front, when you’re talking about their front, you have to work to minimize Clowney and his impact on the game and the variety of ways they utilize him”, head coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week in preparing for the Titans, and likening it to their preparation for Watt. “They move him around a bunch. Everyone has to be prepared to block him”.
“It’s really a different body type, but it’s a similar discussion to what we had last week in terms of dealing with J.J. Watt and just in terms of how they move him around, how versatile they are and multiple they are because of it”, he went on. “We will be challenged there”.
When playing an athlete who can take over a game, there isn’t one strategy you use in order to plan for him. You have to use a variety of approaches and change them up so that they can’t learn the way in which you intend to play him.
This is especially important when it comes to a team that uses a player in a variety of ways, the way the Texans do with Watt and the Titans do with Clowney. But having the experience of working against Watt just a few days ago should be of benefit in putting together a package for their next challenge.
A former first-overall pick of the Texans, Clowney was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2019, where he played under the franchise tender. He declined to sign throughout the offseason, only doing so shortly before the regular season began, choosing the Titans over, among others, reportedly the Baltimore Ravens.
While he never developed into the premiere pass-rusher that you would expect from a player of his pedigree (he has never had a 10-sack season), he is more than capable of getting into the backfield and winning one-on-one matchups. He is also a very good run defender to boot, which is not the Steelers’ strength at the tackle positions.