The Steelers look to get back on track this week, and they will have to answer these four critical questions against the Jets.
The Steelers are getting close to do-or-die territory, as the remainder of their schedule doesn’t get much easier. The Jets have held their own to this point and boast some weapons on both offense and defense. With the impending return of Zach Wilson as well, the Jets could see their season turn into a more competitive one.
If the Steelers lose here, they are in a world of hurt, as their season will look truly derailed at that point. This is a beatable Jets team with or without Wilson at quarterback, and Pittsburgh needs to capitalize. In order to get the win though, there are some burning questions that the team will have to answer on Sunday.
Can the Steelers cover Wilson?
One of the biggest revelations for the Jets over the past few weeks has been the progression of Garrett Wilson. Taken early in the draft, Wilson has been electric to start his career so far. He had a breakout game against the Browns and has showcased his sharp route running and yards-after-the-catch ability.
The Steelers secondary hasn’t been horrible, but they haven’t been nearly as good as they were when the team was generating better pressure. Wilson isn’t the only threat either, as the Jet’s passing game can win in various ways. Wilson has to be the focus, as he is the biggest threat overall and can kill this secondary if given the chance.
Can the Steelers stop the run?
While stopping Wilson in the passing game will be key, the Jets also boast a pair of talented running backs that can win in a variety of ways. Breece Hall, New York’s second-round pick, is the better pure runner and has the size to handle a big workload. Michael Carter is the speedy and shiftier back that can break off big runs.
Neither has had huge games yet, but that could change with a Steelers defense that has once again been suspect against the run. Either can break out for a long run and score and each can be contributors in the passing game. Expect the Jets to try to get this duo going, and Pittsburgh has to be able to shore up their run defense.
How will the Steelers treat Wilson?
A different Wilson this time, as the Jet’s top pick from a season ago, Wilson the quarterback, is set to make his season debut after a preseason injury. While Joe Flacco has been surprisingly efficient, Wilson has the potential to be a great quarterback. In this new and improved offense, Wilson could finally shine.
The Steelers need to find a way to pressure Wilson. Coming off an injury, he should be a little rusty, and the young quarterback struggled when faced with pressure last season. Adding in the injuries to the offensive line and generating pressure will be key to stopping the Jets. Pittsburgh has struggled to get after the quarterback as of late, and the ability to apply pressure will be key to the outcome.
Can Harris finally get going?
One of the biggest disappointments so far this season has been the play of Najee Harris. While the offense as a whole has been bad, he was expected to be a difference maker on this team and a way for this offense to still be effective. Even with the offensive line playing better, Harris has looked slow and lost at times, leading to missed lanes and poor outcomes.
This is the type of week where Harris can and should thrive. The Jet’s defense hasn’t been great against the run, so relying on Harris to get going would be a wise move. Even adding in some Jaylen Warren can help change the pace of this game. If the Steelers want to win this week, having an effective run game will be key.
The Steelers need to get back on track this week, and the Jets poise a beatable team for both the offense and defense to exploit. The road gets a lot harder after this week, so answering these questions and finding a way to win will be paramount to the success of the Steelers.