The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their tenth regular season game of 2020 Sunday afternoon on the road at TIAA Bank Field against the Jacksonville Jaguars as they look to notch their tenth consecutive win. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do in the game to come away with another road win against the Jaguars and move to 10-0 on the season.
And Here’s To You, Mr. Robinson – Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson is having one fine first NFL season as the Illinois State product already has 917 scrimmage yards with 689 of them coming via his 155 total rushing attempts. He also already has 29 receptions on the season for 228 yards and his scored seven total touchdowns in the Jaguars first nine games of the season. Heading into Week 11, Robinson has five explosive plays of 20 yards or more already this season. 83 (53.6%) of his runs so far this season were successful ones. With rookie quarterback Jake Luton set to make another start on Sunday, his third of the season, look for the Jaguars to lean heavily on Robinson in this game. The Steelers main goal the last several weeks has been to stop the running and that mostly hasn’t gone that well. While the Steelers will get cornerback Mike Hilton back on Sunday, that will only help when he’s on the field. The Jaguars will likely use a lot of big personnel groupings so it will mostly be up to the Steelers base defensive unit to shut down Robinson early and often. The Steelers won’t want to deal with Robinson late in a close game, so the defense better shut the undrafted rookie down early and the offense better build a nice lead by the start of the third quarter.
Corner The Secondary – The Jaguars will be without at least one of their starting cornerbacks on Sunday as C.J. Henderson was placed on the team’s Reserve/Injured list. There’s also a possibility that their other starting cornerback Sidney Jones might sit out the Sunday home contest as well as he entered the weekend as questionable with an Achilles injury. Even if Jones plays on Sunday, he won’t be one hundred percent. While the Jaguars will get cornerback D.J. Hayden back on Sunday, he’ll likely be asked to play in the slot. In short, the Jaguars might need to play backup cornerbacks Tre Herndon and Chris Claybrooks on the outside quite a bit against the Steelers. This will present several great matchups for the Steelers wide receivers throughout the game and especially on the outside whenever the Jaguars play one-deep safety, which has been quite frequently this season. Wide receiver Chase Claypool versus Claybrooks is an especially tasty matchup for the Steelers when it comes to deeper routes. Sure, the Steelers offense probably wants to get their running game going on Sunday in Jacksonville, but that shouldn’t lead to them forgoing a lot of three and four wide receiver personnel groupings to do that. This Jaguars secondary appears to be very vulnerable heading into Sunday so Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could wind up having his best game of the season through the air with that including a high percentage of deep throws being completed.
Don’t Baby Chark – Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark might just be one of the most underrated players in the NFL at his position right now. The LSU product lead the Jaguars in receptions, receiving yardage, explosives plays (7) this season. Four of those 7 explosive play receptions have come from Luton in the last two games. Last Sunday the Steelers defenses did a great job of limiting Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd and thus forcing rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to win through the air by going to other players. On Sunday in Jacksonville, the Steelers defense needs to focus on taking away Chark from Luton. The Jaguars won’t have talented rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault on Sunday due to injury so fellow wide receiver Keelan Cole should be the player that Luton is forced to go to the most. Chark only plays about 25 percent of the time in the slot so Steelers cornerbacks Joe Haden and Steve Nelson should be the ones tasked with covering the Jaguars top wide receiver.
Watch Out For Silly Cat Tricks – The Jaguars are a 1-8 team and at this point they’re playing for pride. Make no mistake about it, the Jaguars would love nothing more than to be the team that hands the Steelers their first loss of the 2020 season. The Jaguars can play as loose as they want to on Sunday at home so the Steelers must be on the lookout for all sorts of trickery. That means we could see players other than quarterbacks throwing passes on Sunday, flea flickers, double moves, fake punts and more. The Steelers were surprised with a fake punt late in their Week 10 blowout win against the Bengals last Sunday so maybe that heightened the team’s awareness some.
Pounce Early And Often – The Jaguars won’t have much fight in them if they get down a few scores to the Steelers early in this game. The Jaguars best chance is to grind out a win on the ground and thus not have Luton drop back to pass too terribly much. Jaguars quarterbacks have already been sacked 28 times this season, which is the sixth-most in the NFL. Tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor have struggled mightily this season so Steelers outside linebackers Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt could both have big games if allowed to pin their collective ears back most of Sunday afternoon. Watt is tied for second in the league in sacks with nine and leads the league in tackles for loss (16), quarterback hits (28) and quarterback pressures (38) and he’ll face off against Taylor on Sunday and that’s a huge advantage for the Steelers former first-round draft pick. The Steelers have a short week ahead of them as well so it would be nice to see them get a few starters out of the Sunday game against the Jaguars early like they were able to do a week ago at home against the Bengals.