Why Chase Claypool and other Steelers must step up big vs. Browns
Excluding last week, Claypool hasn’t been much of a factor lately. The Steelers need to find a way to get him the ball more.
Since week 10 Chase Claypool has caught a below-average 50.8% of balls thrown his way. A good amount of these being deep balls and a portion of them being Ben Roethlisberger’s fault. Claypool is arguably the Steelers best playmaker on offense and they need to find more ways to get him the ball. His targets are there but the completions are not. I’d love to see the Steelers keep him in the 10-20 yard range when running routes and of course a few fly routes to try and take the top off the defense. Claypool is a scary fast runner and at 6’4”, almost no cornerback can guard him. Give him the ball and let him run.
When Ben targets Claypool his passer rating is an astounding 110.4 compared to his normal passer rating of 94.1. Keeping Claypool in 10-20 yard range could mean more completions and a more efficient offense. Even catching passes in the flat and running a few jailbreaks with him could turn into meaningful yardage. The key for the offense on Sunday is getting the ball in Claypool’s hands 8+ times. We know what we’re going to get out of JuJu and Diontae, but I have a good feeling Claypool is going to have another breakout game.
Could Josh Dobbs see the field?
Josh Dobbs came in the game a few times against the Browns in Week 17 and did his job. He rushed two times for 20 yards and although it doesn’t seem like much, his two rushing attempts kept drives alive and gave the defense a different look.
Tomlin used Dobbs mainly for the RPO and it worked the majority of the time. Dobbs also completed 4 passes on 5 attempts. If Dobbs does make an appearance, I don’t think we will see him throwing the ball; rather mainly to keep the defense honest. I wouldn’t mind seeing him come in the game a few times to run the ball or hand it off to James Conner. Him handing the ball to Conner could take a defender out of the game because the Browns will have their focus on Dobbs. Seeing Dobbs pass the ball could give Steelers fans a scare but the Browns will be looking for the run if he enters the game. Running a quick slant or an under route to play it safe could make for positive yardage if they decide to throw the ball with Dobbs in the game.
Justin Layne needs to show up when called upon
Justin Layne has been targeted 12 times this year and 10 of those have been completions. Layne hasn’t played more than 40% of Steelers defensive snaps once in a game this entire season, with Haden out, he could be playing significantly more (though Cameron Sutton is expected to get the start).
When on the field, quarterbacks tend to look in Layne’s direction due to his inexperience and ability to cover receivers consistently. We’ll see if the Steelers run more zone coverages due to the absence of Joe Haden. Layne is in for a long day as he knows Baker Mayfield will be looking his way a lot. I’d love to see if the Steelers play their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage if our cornerbacks are struggling.
There are other players who will no doubt share the praise or the blame for Pittsburgh’s win or loss this week, but these three young players must show up when called upon this week. Let’s hope they are each given a shot to give the Steelers their first playoff win this year.