Another week, another athletic quarterback who can make plays with his legs that the Pittsburgh Steelers will have to be prepared for.
After dealing with the likes of Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, the Steelers are preparing for the likes of Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill, one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the NFL ahead of the Week 15 matchup at Heinz Field.
Tannehill, a former wide receiver in college, is closing in on 2,000 career rushing yards, sitting at 225 rushing yards on the season. The veteran quarterback has started to use his legs a bit more in recent weeks with Derrick Henry on injured reserve. In fact, Tannehill rushed for 29 yards and a touchdown on four attempts in Week 14 against the Jaguars, using his legs to extend plays and pick up easy yardage on broken plays.
That’s an area the Steelers have struggled in recent weeks, especially last month against the Chargers and Herbert, who rushed for 92 yards and absolutely gashed the Steelers time and time again. Knowing the struggles the Steelers’ defense has had against mobile quarterbacks in recent weeks, Steelers’ star outside linebacker stated Friday during his media availability that the Steelers must be aware of what Tannehill can do with his legs while maintaining discipline in their rush lanes.
“He’s just one of those guys that you have to be very aware of, how you rush the rush lanes just in the passing game alone, but also in situational football,” Watt said to reporters Friday, according to video via Steelers.com. “He can do the zone reads and the zone-read keeps and stuff like that. So, we can do some things schematically to help out as well, but I think more than anything it’s just us being disciplined in our rush lines and in the run stopping when he does do those zone-read keeps.”
The Steelers have preached rush lane discipline and integrity all season, but they’ve struggled to consistently maintain that throughout the season. The Chargers’ game was the first real sign of trouble, and then a guy like Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow came through with a key rushing touchdown off of a scramble after rush lane integrity was lost, and even Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins had an 11-yard scramble in the Thursday Night Football win.
Tannehill is pretty dangerous with his legs and is unafraid to pull the football down and pick up easy yardage. To avoid another Herbert-like performance, the Steelers will have to stay in their rush lanes and not try to do too much in getting after the Titans’ veteran.