The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to contain a great pairing in week one in the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. Allen threw for over 4,500 yards with 37 touchdowns last season, while Diggs led the league in receptions and receiving yards.
The defense hasn’t been nearly as successful for the past two weeks, and now they have perhaps their greatest challenge of the season on deck, heading north to play the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is looking like his old self after some week-one hiccups, and he hasn’t missed a beat in his connection with wide receiver Davante Adams. The Steelers know this isn’t a one-man job.
“Make sure we let everybody on the defense know exactly where he’s at”, cornerback Joe Haden said of the key to covering Adams in this game. “He’s not just a, ‘Hey Joe, you go over there and good luck’. Coach T said that in the meeting. You’re making sure everybody knows where he’s at”.
Adams leads the league with 25 receptions so far through three games, with 309 receiving yards and a touchdown. There are certainly more endzone celebrations to come. He scored a league-leading 18 just last year, in 14 games.
“He’s a tremendous player, and him playing with Aaron Rodgers for this long, they have a great chemistry together where they can just find each other all the time”, Haden said. “He’s the guy that gets the ball on possession downs. He’s the guy that gets the ball all the time, so literally just knowing where he’s at, studying the tape, knowing where they like to get the ball to him”.
The Steelers occasionally used Haden during his first couple of seasons in Pittsburgh to shadow an opponent’s best wide receiver. He did it against DeAndre Hopkins, for example. They moved away from this when they signed Steven Nelson, but at least so far, there are no plans to go back to that.
If they do, it’s certainly not going to start with Davantae Adams. “He’s all 11”, Haden said of whose responsibility he’ll be. “He’s T.J.’s guy, he’s D Bush’s guy. Everybody’s guy. We just got to make sure we know where he’s at. I’m not following”.
A good way to start defending Adams and the Packers is to get a lid back on the top of the coverage, as the Steelers have been leaking on the deep ball in recent weeks. Haden talked about the defense needing to take that off of their tape in a hurry.
If you’re going to get beat by a duo like Rodgers and Adams, make them earn it. Throw everything at them and keep them clawing up the field with digs and curls.