The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a couple of Josh Allens to contend with down the stretch this year, both in very different environments. One is a quarterback whom they will have to face in cold-weather Buffalo. The other they are preparing to deal with down in Jacksonville when they are hosted by the Jaguars.
Rather than worry about him throwing the ball down their throat, it will be up to the offensive line to keep Jacksonville’s Allen off the throat of their own quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, of whom he grew up a fan, as he told reporters on Thursday.
“At first, it’s going to be pretty cool”, he said about playing against the team and the quarterback he grew up rooting for. “But as soon as the game gets going, I’m going to be locked in until after the game when I get to holler at him. But during the game, and in between the lines, I’m ready to play ball”.
Allen, the seventh-overall pick in last year’s draft, was an instant-impact pass rusher as a rookie, putting together double-digit sacks from the get go and making the Pro Bowl, if memory serves, as an alternate. While he has missed a couple of games this year, he only has two and a half sacks through nine games in 2020, and just 13 tackles.
So far he has only gotten to three different quarterbacks this season, but he is looking for number four on Sunday. As he put it, “I always liked Ben, but I’m ready to hit him”.
The good news for the Steelers is that Roethlisberger hasn’t been hit very often this season. The Steelers have given up just 10 sacks in 2020, and the only team that has allowed fewer sacks is the Indianapolis Colts, giving up nine sacks.
As a team, the Jaguars have not been getting after the passer at all. They only have nine sacks, which is the lowest in the NFL. They are the only one of the 32 teams in the league that has yet to reach double-digit sacks, now nine games into the year.
While they are averaging one sack per game, the Steelers will prove to be a challenge for them to get that elusive 10th. They have not given up a sack in the past two games, or in three of the past four, even though Roethlisberger has dropped back to pass 169 times during that span.