The Pittsburgh Steelers have slightly advanced notice of the quarterback they’re facing Monday night. The Cincinnati Bengals today announced Ryan Finley will start in place of the injured Brandon Allen (who was starting in place of the injured Joe Burrow). But the work week is basically over, giving the Steelers’ defense little time to practice a specific gameplan against the QB they’re going to face.
Talking to the media Saturday, Tyson Alualu said it makes these opponents tougher to play against.
“I think it’s a good challenge for us,” Alualu told reporters via the team website. “Not knowing who you are going to face. Because that changes kind of the whole game plan that you might be going in with. From an offensive standpoint, what they want to do if it’s a young quarterback. So it does change these things,”
This year, Pittsburgh’s no stranger to these situations. And haven’t performed particularly well against them. The Broncos’ Drew Lock exited early in Week 2. Backup Jeff Driskel did well in relief, throwing two touchdowns and keeping Denver competitive until the very end. And in Week 9, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t announce Garrett Gilbert would start until late in the week. Gilbert performed even better and gave Dallas a 13-0 first half lead. It took a 15-point fourth quarter for Pittsburgh to storm back and win.
Alualu said in these weeks, it’s about focusing in on the Bengals’ overall scheme than who the quarterback will be.
“Schematically, we have to look at how they’re going to attack our defense with a certain quarterback. So we just have to be ready for whoever it is.”
Finley will make his fourth career start and second against the Steelers Monday night. Last year, he completed just 12 of 26 passes but threw for 192 yards and a touchdown in a 16-10 loss to Pittsburgh. It’s a low bar but that’s been Finley’s best game to date. The Bengals may be one of football’s worst teams but given the Steelers’ struggles under these circumstances, they can’t be overlooked.