Paralysis by Analysis – Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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Would the real Pittsburgh Steelers please stand up? Which team is the real Steelers? Is it the team that pretty much dominated the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans, or is it the team that had their asses handed to them by the Ravens and the Texans? Or are they the team who squeaked by a depleted Colts team by the skin of their teeth?

Who’s to say for sure? It could be one of those seasons that we simply won’t know which team will show up from week to week. In a way, that could be the worst of all the options. Fans dare not get their hopes up after a convincing win, but can’t imagine the team is as bad as they play after a complete trucking.

So many questions. So few answers.

Back to Steelers Football, For Now

It’s as familiar a saying as “Defense win championships,” or “She said she was 18.” Steelers football is about running the ball and stopping the run. This past Sunday, with more backups on the field than the number of the Kardashian sisters’ combined IQ, the Steelers ran effectively and shut down one of the best running backs in recent history.

Jonathan Dwyer put up an ungodly 9.7 yards per carry average. Admittedly, one of his runs was for 76 yards, but that is still a very nice average for the game.

Isaac Redman was very effective, rushing for 49 yards on 15 carries, good for 4.1 yards per carry.

Hell, even the receivers chipped in 18 yards on the ground. Mike Wallace had eight yards while Tony Brown had 10.

Jacksonville’s rush defense is 10th in the league right now. Want to guess who is 11th? The Titans. I’m not saying we should expect the exact same kind of production as what we saw against Tennessee, but one can’t deny the numbers.

Ben Roethlisberger put up a 5-touchdown performance on a gimpy leg. The patchwork offensive line did an amazing job of protecting Ben and his bad wheel. Ben was sacked only once on Sunday and seemed to have a lot more time to throw than he did against the Ravens, a team the Titans beat.

Interestingly, the Jaguar’s pass defense is also 10th in the league, immediately in front of Tennessee. Again, you can’t say the Steelers will be able to throw for five touchdowns against the Jags, but they will be facing a defense that is similar to the one they just faced in terms of numbers.

On the other side of the ball, the defense, which was missing two of three starting linemen and the incomparable linebacker James Harrison, shut Chris Johnson down all day. CJ2K was held to 51 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. That’s a 3.6 yards per carry average. Now keep in mind, one of those carries was for 21 yards. Take that one run away and you are left with 30 yards on 13 carries (2.4 yards/carry).

Enter Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mo-Jo is 4th in the league in rushing yards, so the defense’s work will be cut out for them.

The good news is that Blaine Gabbert, the rookie quarterback of the Jags is playing like, well, a rookie. He has a touchdown in all three games he has played in, but he also has two picks and has been sacked eight times. He has also fumbled five times, losing two of them.

His 556 yards gives him a touch more than 185 yards per game through the air, which would just barely instill fear in a high school team. It doesn’t help that he has maybe the worst receiving corps in the league. The Jaguars have one, repeat ONE, receiver in the top 100 for receptions in the league. Mike Thomas is tied for 22nd in the league with 23 catches. He has 265 yards on the year and a single score.

So, what will we see out of the Steelers this week? It should be a familiar refrain. Stop Maurice Jones-Drew. Make a rookie quarterback and a bunch of guys who wouldn’t be in the league if Jacksonville didn’t have a team try to beat them.