Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At New York Jets
- QuarterbackThe Steelers could slip off the radar because of their 0-4 start and perhaps teams will start to overlook them. That could help get this team back on track. Ben Roethlisberger has not been on top of his game as his 5-5 TD-interception ratio indicates, but he could get better with improved protection from his offensive line and a half-decent running game.Geno Smith is getting valuable experience as a rookie quarterback and he has shown he can throw the ball well enough when he gets solid protection from his offensive line. He had his best game in Week Five, as he led the Jets to a come-from-behind win at Atlanta as he completed 16-of-20 passes for 199 yards with 3 TDs and no interceptions.
- OffenseThe Steelers’ inability to run the ball is a big problem psychologically. This team has always been defined by its physicality, but when running backs can’t make yards after contact, it weighs heavily on the team’s confidence. Antonio Brown has been a nice find as a wide receiver because of his speed and big-play ability, but the Steelers struggle to sustain drives.The Jets have performed better than expected on offense, but that’s still a long way from where they need to be. Bilal Powell has given the Jets a moderately productive running game even though he does not have breakaway ability. Jeremy Kerley showed toughness in making five tough catches against the Falcons. Stephen Hill is a slightly better than average receiver.
- DefenseThe Steelers have lost much of their ability to dominate on defense as they no longer intimidate their opponents. Troy Polamalu can still make plays, but he is not as consistent as he has been in the past. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons is one of the team’s most dependable tacklers, while powerful LaMarr Woodley is their best pass rusher.The Jets have played with tremendous effort on the defensive side of the ball, which is just what you would expect from head coach Rex Ryan. Keep your eyes on unheralded Muhammad Wilkerson, who can rush the passer and cause havoc in the backfield. Linebacker David Harris is one of the Jets’ best tacklers and is almost always in the right position.
- Special TeamsThe Steelers have not been able to threaten on special teams with their returners. Placekicker Shaun Suisham has gotten off to a solid start by making all six of his FG attempts through the first four games. Zoltan Mesko has been disappointing since being signed at the end of training camp.The Jets play with effort on special teams and that could allow them to flip field position in their favor vs. the Steelers. Clyde Gates is a decent returner who could break a long kickoff return. Nick Folk does not have a big reputation, but he has been a solid kicker for the Jets.
The Jets have been playing excellent defense this year and the overall effort has been solid. However, Smith makes a ton of mistakes and his presence could be all the Steelers need to get in the win column. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor