There are many layers that exist as we head into tomorrow’s game against the Buffalo Bills, and perhaps the biggest one, other than the Steelers being 14-point underdogs, is the fact that rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett will be making his first career start. But beneath all the hoopla surrounding that is a neat tidbit in that the two head coaches squaring off tomorrow in Mike Tomlin and Sean McDermott were once college teammates at William & Mary, at safety and wide receiver, respectively.
Tomlin sat down earlier with KDKA TV’s Bob Pompeani to discuss the bond that exists between the two, and whether or not that’s a talking point heading into the game. In the true professionalism that Tomlin always exhibits, he nipped that directly in the bud.
“That’s a guy that been a friend of mine since I was 20 years old,” Tomlin said via the Steelers’ official YouTube channel. “I’m so proud to be associated with him and call him a friend and see the success he’s had, but at the same time, on game day, they’re nameless grey faces.”
The two went on about Tomlin’s admiration for his counterpart, and then naturally, the topic shifted to the task at hand, and that’s getting a rookie quarterback ready to go on the road and make his first career start against an AFC powerhouse, and a lot of people’s choice to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. Judging by Tomlin’s comments, he doesn’t plan on allowing his future signal-caller to sit back in the pocket and take unnecessary hits.
“Obviously, take care of the ball is always a prerequisite, but I think staying on schedule and being able to do the things and spin the dial that come with staying on schedule is going to aid with making Kenny a moving target and keep him clean.”
Defensively, the Steelers haven’t faced anything at QB like they will this Sunday in Josh Allen, and they’ll be doing so minus not only their best defender but the reigning DPOY in T.J. Watt. Allen, at 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, has been making the frequent highlight reels on SportsCenter already this year, as he’s embarrassed several defenders, so the Steelers had better bring multiple defenders each and every time Allen decides to take off and run, to try and slow down the train before it leaves the station.
“When you’re playing a guy with unique quarterback mobility, oftentimes it takes more than four people to minimize his ability to find escape lanes. So anytime you’re looking at a guy with his type of mobility, the number of rushers is always a significant component of discussion, but it’s not earth shattering.”
Whether the defense is up to this gargantuan task remains to be seen, as the defense has been vastly underwhelming in previous losses to the Patriots, Browns and Jets, with little to no pressure at all. And the Bills are light years better than any of those teams, so defensively speaking, perhaps the team will employ a spy on Allen to minimize his damage on the ground. Whatever gameplan they have, hopefully it works out better than it has the previous three games, because that’s obviously not getting the job done.