The Steelers’ Defense now knows what to expect from a West Coast Offense
This will be the fourth time in as many games that Pittsburgh’s defense will go up against a West Coast Offense, or at least one that is led by a player or coach with a history in that offense.
First there was Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers, who came to town and put a 30-7 beatdown on the Steelers opening day. But since then, the Black & Gold’s defense has stiffened, allowing just 20.0 points per game.
Pittsburgh has also been able to capitalize on turnovers the last two games, forcing seven of them (four interceptions and three fumble recoveries) against the Browns and Raiders.
The Texans’ offensive coordinator is Bobby Slowik, who served as the 49ers’ passing game coordinator last season. Head Coach DeMeco Ryans, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator last season, brought Slowik with him to Houston and they run the same basic offense as the 49ers.
The difference is that the Texans’ offense isn’t even close to the level of the 49ers, at least not yet. For example, Houston currently ranks 18th in the league in scoring (22.0 ppg) and 28th in rushing (70.0 ypg), while San Francisco ranks third in scoring (30.0 ppg) and rushing (162.7 ypg).
Houston’s passing game under the guidance of Stroud has been impressive, ranking sixth in the league in passing yards (271.0 ypg). But one of the major issues the Texans have had on offense is keeping their quarterback upright, allowing 11 sacks (eighth-worst in the NFL) thus far. That’s good news for the Steelers, who currently lead the league with 13 sacks and rank second with 40 pressures thus far.
Individually, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt leads the NFL with 6.0 sacks. Houston will also have a Watt on its sideline, even if he’s not sure who to root for. And the big difference here is that J.J. is now retired and won’t actually be playing. Rather, he will be there to be inducted into the Texans’ Ring of Honor at halftime.