It might not be on the level of the Cleveland Browns or the Baltimore Ravens’ rushing attacks that the Pittsburgh Steelers are so accustomed to dealing with, but the Chicago Bears’ offense under the direction of rookie dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields is starting to find its footing and will present a real challenge to the Steelers on Monday night at Heinz Field.
That challenge is something star outside linebacker T.J. Watt is embracing.
Though this will be the first time the Steelers will see Fields in what many hope is a long career in the Windy City. With Fields strong, accurate arm and ability to extend plays and make drive-altering plays with his legs, Fields will be a real challenge for the Steelers. He won’t be on the level of Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, or Buffalo’s Josh Allen, but he’ll be a unique challenge overall for the Steelers’ defense in front of a national audience.
“Like I said, it’s a challenge week in, week out,” Watt said to reporters Saturday, according to video via Steelers.com. “There’s going to be something unique about a team that you didn’t see the week before. We’ve seen a lot of running offense, obviously in Cleveland and with Baltimore as well. But like I said, this isn’t a Baltimore-style run offense. It’s a totally different style of run offense, so they like to run the ball downhill and they like to move the quarterback around to out of the pocket, get him comfortable. And so it’ll be a challenge.”
Watt is correct in that this isn’t as sophisticated a running attack as Baltimore or Cleveland, but the Bears’ rushing attack with rookie Khalil Herbert and returning top back David Montgomery is a rather successful one, one that has kept the Bears in games in the last month or so, and has helped take some of the workload off of Fields’ right arm.
That’s huge for a young quarterback, especially a rookie like Fields.
Where the Ohio State product really made strides last week was with his legs and comfort pulling the football down and picking up yards on the ground, rushing for 100 yards for the first time in his career. Knowing he’s comfortable and confident doing that, the Steelers will have to maintain their rush lanes throughout the night and make sure they have at least one defender spying, as they don’t want Fields to kill them with his legs, especially in a hostile environment on the road in primetime.
That’s wherein the challenge lies for the Steelers’ defense.