The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.
They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom are starting.
There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Can the Steelers limit the damage Lamar Jackson does with his legs?
Due to a variety of circumstances, the Steelers have only faced Lamar Jackson twice as the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. Today’s game will be the third time. They are 1-1 against him, including an overtime loss started by Mason Rudolph and finished by Devlin Hodges, seeing his first NFL snaps as an undrafted rookie.
In the first game, which the Ravens won, 26-23, Jackson completed 19 of 28 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown, but he threw three interceptions. He rushed for 70 yards, but it took him 14 carries, which equated to his fourth-lowest yards per rush for a game that season.
Last year, they also only faced him once, and they won that game. Jackson went just 13-for-28 for 208 yards. He threw two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice. He rushed for only 65 yards on 16 attempts, and he fumbled three times, losing two of them.
Seven turnovers in two games is a pretty good way to control Jackson. He has thrown seven interceptions in his last three games, including four last week. His rushing numbers have been a bit down, as well. They are 2-2 in their last four games, as well.
Jackson only has two rushing touchdowns this year, and both came back in Week 2. He’s only rushed for 70 or more yards twice since then. Given that their run game isn’t as robust as it normally is, more will fall on his shoulders.
But this is a run defense that may very well be the worst in the league, and it has been particularly vulnerable to leaking against quarterbacks recently. It’s hard to give the Steelers the benefit of the doubt at this point. But if they want to win this game, they have to control Jackson in the pocket.