Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans: Players to Watch


After a pathetic performance against the New York Jets in week ten the Pittsburgh Steelers are now 6-4 with two head-scratching losses on their resume.  It is hard to even comprehend the fact that the Steelers have losses to the 1-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2-8 Jets, yet they also have the capability of crushing the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens.  Anyways, in week eleven the Steelers have another opportunity to beat a team with a dreadful winning percentage when they play the 2-7 Tennessee Titans at LP Field.  The Steelers have lost their last two games versus the Titans, including the season opening loss last year when center Maurkice Pouncey tore his ACL.  Here are a few players to watch for on Monday.

Zach Mettenberger

The Steelers defense gets to face a rookie quarterback this week for the first time since week five when they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-9.  Zach Mettenberger will be making his third straight start filling in for the injured Jake Locker.  Mettenberger has not been awful in his first two starts despite losing both games.  He has completed 63% of throws and has three touchdowns to two interceptions.  The issue for young Mr. Mettenberger is he will be going up a Dick LeBeau defense that has an impressive 18-2 record against rookie quarterbacks since 2004.  A major issue for Mettenberger against the Steelers could be his lack of mobility.  In college at LSU he grew a reputation of standing in the pocket and being willing to take a hit.  Similar to Ben Roethlisberger, Mettenberger will hold onto the ball for a long time. That ended out hurting the Titans last week against the Ravens as Mettenberger was sacked five times.  The Titans offense ranks 31st in the league in total yards and dead last in points scored.  If the Steelers can get to the young quarterback like the Ravens were able to last Sunday, the Steelers defense should at least be able to keep the Titans from scoring a ton of points.

Le’Veon Bell

For the second straight week Le’Veon Bell was held to under 75 combined yards.  This two game streak was after an impressive run of eight straight games with over 100 rushing and passing yards to start the season.  Against the Jets on Sunday, Bell ran for 36 yards and averaged only 3.3 yards per carry, his third straight game with a yard per rush average under four.  Maybe Bell’s lack of running success was due to the fact that the Steelers faced the Ravens and the Jets, ranked fifth and sixth in defending the run.  However, this week will be the determining factor to weather Bell is in a slump or if the past two weeks were just due to the matchups.  The Titans run defense is ranked 29th in the league, allowing 136.6 yards per game.  In the Titans previous two games they allowed Justin Forsett to run for 112 yards and Arian Foster gained 151 yards in week eight.  Both Forsett and Foster scored two touchdowns, while Foster ran for an impressive 7.6 yards per rush with Forsett not far behind running for 6.3 yards per attempt.  Bell has only been given 21 carries over the past two weeks, by far the fewest amount over any two-week span this year.  On Monday it would make sense to give Bell a heavy workload in an attempt to exploit the Titans rushing defense like Forsett and Foster did in the previous two games.

Mike Tomlin vs. Ken Whisenhunt

After Bill Cowher decided to retire after the 2006 NFL season it appeared a major candidate for the job was then Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.  However, we all know that Whisenhunt ended up in Arizona and the Steelers selected the relatively unknown Mike Tomlin to be the next Steelers head coach.  Depending on who you ask you can say the move worked out well for the Steelers and pretty well for the Cardinals.  These two coaches have gone head-to-head three times over the seven seasons.  In 2007, Whisenhunt drew first blood beating the Steelers in Arizona 21-14.  Since then Mike Tomlin has won the past two meetings, including the biggest matchup of them all, Super Bowl XLIII.  Whisenhunt was fired by the Cardinals after a 5-11 season in 2012, when Pittsburgh West hired Bruce Arians.  Whisenhunt spent last year resurrecting the career of Philip Rivers in San Diego as their offensive coordinator.  He is now onto his second head coaching job with the Tennessee Titans.  Tomlin after winning the Super Bowl, has won another AFC Championship but has led the Steelers to only a 22-20 record over the past two plus years.  Obviously these two aren’t players to watch for during the Titans/Steelers game but it has been and will be intriguing to see these two go head-to-head once again considering where their career paths went after that 2007 decision by the Steelers to hire Tomlin.

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