Editor's note: In haste, I incorrectly said the Q&A was with The Jets Blog. In fact, it was with the fine folks at Jets Fan,
Happy Saturday Steeler Nation. Hope you've got some nice plans for the weekend leading up to tomorrow afternoon's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. If you're going to the game, have a ball and cheer the Steelers on to victory. If you're watching at home or at a bar, do whatever it is you've been doing during the Steelers' four-game winning streak.
Here's a Q&A I did with the fine folks over at Jets Fan. I'll have my responses to their questions sometime this afternoon. To the questions..
1) Tell us why we should be scared of Mark Sanchez turning things around this week. What's been plaguing him in recent weeks?
TJB: Frankly, it would be hard for me to say you should be scared of anything Sanchez is doing right now. He has struggled with almost every facet of his game - his accuracy has been way off, he has made poor decisions and his confidence is clearly shaken. But the guy went through the same problems last year and rebounded nicely when games mattered most - in the playoffs. Right now the source of his struggles is his mechanics. His footwork is off and he is throwing off balance and his passes have been sailing. This has made him press which has led to bad decisions and diminished confidence. He plays very well on the move so if he is hitting on some bootleg rollouts or if he scrambles for a couple of big gains, his confidence might start coming back and is capable of getting on a roll.
2) Talk to us about the state of the Jets' offensive line. At the outset of the year, the Jets offensive line promised to be solid once again. Have they been? Have injuries taken their toll?
TJB: Injuries have not really been a problem with this team. Damien Woody went down last week and is now lost for the season but before this they had been very healthy. The Jets will miss him because they like to run behind him and Brandon Moore. Woody's replacement, Wayne Hunter, does not get nearly the same push as Woody did. He is more of a finesse blocker who can contain speed rushers but can be overmatched by a good bull rush. The line has been pretty solid overall. They worked in second year man, Matt Slauson, who will get beat occasionally in pass protection but overall has done a pretty good job as a new starter. The Jets still have one of the best rushing attacks in the league (ranked 6th) but they have been hurt by Sanchez' erratic play. When he is off, teams have stacked the line. They do not feel he can beat them through the air. If they can get more consistent play at the QB position, this will be a top-3 rushing attack. Sanchez took some hits against the Dolphins last week but overall the line has protected him well most of the season.
3) Big Ben is hurting and the Steelers offensive line is ravaged by injuries. What kind of looks do you expect the Jets defense to give Roethlisberger and his line?
TJB: Rex Ryan's defense likes to bring a lot of overload blitzes. They will force the Steelers' young linemen to make quick decisions by bringing multiple blitzers to their lane. They will also play a lot of man-to-man behind it. With Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith out, they do not have someone who change up coverages pre-snap so they will not be able to disguise a lot of coverages. That will help Roethlisberger.
4) Rex Ryan seems to be a polarizing figure - you either love him or you hate him. What would you describe the general sentiment towards Ryan amongst the writers at Jets Blog?
TJB: Basically, we love him as long as he wins. But when the team got blown out on national TV, everyone was pretty upset. The bragging is great as long as the team backs it up on the field but despite their decent record, the overall sentiment has been that they have underachieved and Ryan needs to stop talking about how great they are and start getting them to play better.