When the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Miami Dolphins tomorrow night, they’ll be going up against Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, a lefty. Lefty quarterbacks are rare in the NFL, but there have been some notable ones, including former Steelers QB Michael Vick and Steve Young. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about what it’s like playing a lefty quarterback and how it changes the game.
“You know, it changes a couple components of their game, the fluidity of their misdirection passes to their left, the defense’s right. We play a guy like T.J. [Watt] on the left side of our defense because he sees a lot of misdirection passes and pocket movements from right-handed passers and so a guy like Alex Highsmith needs to be aware of quarterback mobility and pocket movement when you’re playing a guy like that,” Tomlin said on the Mike Tomlin show via the team’s YouTube channel.
He also added that the defensive corners flip from a left corner game to more of a right corner game.
“The defensive right corner gets more rhythm passing than the defensive left corner, and that runs counterculture to normalcy. But not a lot significant differences, but those are some things that capture your attention,” he said.
Going up against Tagovailoa, Highsmith is going to have a lot more opportunities to tip balls at the line of scrimmage, something that’s a major strength of Watt’s game. Highsmith got his first pass deflection of the season last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and if he can pick a few up against Miami on Sunday, it could help turn the game in Pittsburgh’s favor.
It’s also going to be Tagovailoa’s first game back after missing the previous two with a concussion, but Miami was 3-0 with him under center before he went down on Thursday night in Week 4 against the Bengals. Pittsburgh’s going to have to play as well in the secondary as they did last week against Tom Brady, and also be aware of the fact that as a lefty, he’s going to hit more throws to the right defensive corner, which is something that Teryl Austin also talked about.
“I think what happens is the game goes from a left-corner game to a right-corner game a lot of times, and all the things that we talked about happen to the left corner, they’re going to happen to the right corner this week,” Austin said in his press conference on Thursday, via official transcript provided by the team.
Scheme-wise, nothing will probably change when it comes to facing Tagovailoa, but it’s going to be up to different players to step up. Highsmith is going to have more responsibility with the ball in the air, and different corners are probably going to be targeted more than they normally would with the game basically changing direction. It’s going to be interesting to see how guys perform, and if the defense as a whole can step up the way it did last week. If they are and the offense responds, then Pittsburgh could have its first two-game winning streak of the season and send Miami to 3-4 with its fourth straight loss.