Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Players to Watch

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The Pittsburgh Steelers up and down season continues.  After a win over the Panthers in week three everything seemed to going in the right direction.  Then Sunday against the Buccaneers happened and now it looks like the Steelers are back on track for an 8-8 season.  People are calling for coaches’ jobs.  Players are getting criticized.  It has not been a good few days in Steelers Nation.  Depending on how you look at it, in week five the Steelers have another winnable game when they meet another team looking for their first win, as the Jacksonville Jaguars welcome the Steelers into EverBank Field on Sunday.  Here are a few players to watch for on Sunday.

Dick LeBeau

While Dick LeBeau is not exactly a player, he is certainly somebody to watch for on Sunday.  On the Buccaneers final two drives against the Steelers on Sunday, Mike Glennon and the Tampa offense had no problem throwing the ball against a lot of Steelers zones.  The Steelers were unable to create any pressure on the quarterback during the entire game, recording only one sack.  Glennon threw for 302 yards.  It was not a good performance to say the least by the Steelers defense. On Sunday the Steelers get to play rookie Blake Bortles, who will be making his second NFL start.  LeBeau and the Steelers have had incredible success versus rookie quarterbacks since 2004, going 17-2 in those games.  The Jaguars are not good.  They do not have the weapons that Tampa Bay had.  The Jaguars have yet to score more than 17 points in a game and their closest loss was in week one, when they lost by 17 to the Philadelphia Eagles.

It seems like everybody is calling for Todd Haley to get fired despite the offense being better in pretty much every category compared to last year.  ESPN’s Scott Brown breaks down the numbers very clearly.  Did Haley have some questionable play calls?  For sure.  But the offense has not been a huge problem minus the stretch when they couldn’t find the end zone.  Defense is the issue and the head of the defense is Dick LeBeau.  I’m not ready to say it’s time for DLB to go, that’s just the times we live in where everybody wants everyone fired immediately. Have a little patience.  However, If the Steelers defense can’t shut down the Jaguars offense and make Bortles look like a rookie at times, then it’s officially time to panic. 

Antonio Brown

After setting an NFL record in week four by catching five or more passes for the twentieth consecutive game, Antonio Brown has been nothing short of spectacular through the first four weeks of the season.  He already has 29 catches for 427 yards and five touchdowns.  It’s almost impossible to argue that AB is not on the top five list of best NFL receivers.  The Jaguars have the worst pass defense in the NFL this season.  They have already allowed 1,283 passing yards, ranking them 32nd in the NFL with over 150 more yards allowed than the 31st ranked Atlanta Falcons.  They also rank last in passing touchdowns allowed, with 11.  Last week against the Chargers, Philip Rivers threw for 377 yards.  Phil found his number one target Keenan Allen ten times for 135 yards.  Antonio Brown should exploit the weak Jaguars defense on Sunday.  Expect big numbers from number 84.

Offensive Line

Despite the Jaguars not having a very good record or stats four weeks into the season, they have done one thing well.  That is getting to the quarterback.  They rank second in the league with 12 sacks (it helps that teams have attempted the most passes in the league against the Jaguars defense).  Getting to the quarterback is something the Tampa Bay Bucs did to the Steelers last week, as they recorded five sacks on Big Ben.  Before the five sack game the Bucs had only four sacks in three games.  Andre Branch leads the Jaguars with three sacks.  He also has two forced fumbles.  If Ramon Foster returns from his ankle injury that would certainly help the offensive line because his replacement Cody Wallace wasn’t great against the Bucs.  Kelvin Beachum also had some issues giving up sacks. T he easiest way for the Jags to pull off the upset would be by getting to Big Ben often.  The o-line needs to play better to prevent that.

There you have it Steelers Nation. Who else should we keep an eye on during the Jaguars game?