Pregame Zone Blitz: You Don't Know Jacksonville

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Eben Britton #73 of the Jacksonville Jaguars prepares to block Chris Kelsay #90 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

It was a simple week, so PZB got simple.

A simple (appearance only) whipping of the Titans led us to see everything much more clearly. This team can beat anyone it plays, so long as it prepares itself like a champion would. The preparation showed in the victory, and with similar preparation this week, it's gonna be a big game for a certain outside linebacker, who resembles a pharaoh.

Jacksonville's passing game is as worn down as the tombs of the ancient pharaohs, but they've still got a big play back. All he needs is a little space, but all Coach Tomlin needs is forward-thinking, which is his way of saying "us against the world."

PZB's loving some simplicity right now, so let's get into it. 

Opponent Web Sites/Forums

Nick Harris is Jacksonville's new punter

Big Cat Country points out CB Rashean Mathis's career performances against the Steelers.

BCC also expects MJD to have a B-I-G-D-A-Y

Last Game

The most impressive piece of this game - outside the complete domination in the trenches on both sides of the ball, the excellent play-action, outstanding performances in the red zone and the shredding of a very talented secondary - was how it all came together when it needed to.

PZB ranted before Week 5 it was a must-win game. After suffering a tough loss at Houston, and facing the prospect of dropping even further out of what could be one of the most competitive AFCs top to bottom in quite a while, the Steelers listened to Frank the Tank, and said, "we can't have anyone freaking out out there! We have to keep our composure! We've come too far!"

They kept things simple. Easy. Nice little three-step-drop and throw to the tight end. Some Hines Ward over the middle. A perfectly executed power sweep that gained 76 yards.

Easy, peazy Japanesy.

The defense followed suit by doing the exact opposite to Tennessee. They had to bleed out just to get two or three yards. Their receivers fought for minimal gains. Matt Hasselbeck could barely breathe in 49 pass attempts.

This team is capable of beating anyone. All they need to do is remember that.

In Week 5, they did. 

Us Against The World

How utterly ridiculous is it that James Harrison makes a football act and gets fined $75,000, and Richard Seymour, despite whatever happened to provoke him, slugs a player on national TV in full view of the cameras and knocks him to the ground -- and gets fined $25,000. Weak. Very weak.

Peter King

Coach Tomlin sent a message by ending a conversation.

The Jacksonville media tried to bait Tomlin into talking about a no-call in the 2007 playoffs when QB David Garrard ran for 41 yards on fourth down to seal the Jaguars' last playoff win.

Tomlin wasn't having it. He refuses to cry over spilled milk, certainly not "four-year-old spilled milk," like he called it, scoffing at the notion of even suggesting the topic.

He asked if anyone had any other questions relevant to Week 6 of the 2011 season. No one jumped in right away. Tomlin asked again, and different reports indicate someone began to ask a question (whether it was relevant to the game or not, we'll never know. Perhaps it was about Tomlin's collegiate career), Tomlin didn't hear it so he just said thanks, and hung up.

Hey, at least he said thanks.

While it's likely most will either praise him for his no-nonsense Parcellian approach, or rake him over coals for daring to not speak with the all-hallowed media of Jacksonville, it's also very likely Tomlin will be fined by the league for it.

And thus, stand right with his players, sending the message, "we're in this together. You get fines, now I get fines. We're united."

Even more proof, it's us against the world.

Opponent Spotlight: RT Eben Britton

When assessing the collapse of the Jaguars passing game, one doesn't need to look very far.

Protecting the guy throwing the ball is important.

Britton had back surgery in August, and it doesn't appear he's 100 percent yet. That's unfortunate for Jacksonville, because their young quarterback - first round pick Blaine Gabbert - is the worst current starting QB in the league when pressured (42.9 passer rating when blitzed).

If Gabbert gets pressured, he'll make mistakes. Britton's injury has affected the Jaguars pass protection so far this season, and it's caused a downward spiral of offensive production over the past four games.

After getting a solid performance on rushing over the right tackle in Week 5's 38-17 win, expect Pittsburgh to target Britton early and often in their blitzing scheme. His ability to hold off all-comers to his side will be the determining factor in Jacksonville's struggle to gain yards.

Jacksonville is currently last in the NFL with a meager 270 yards per game, and it is converting only 33 percent of its third down chances. Overall, they just have had little to no success on offense. They do, however, have one of the game's better big-play running backs, and it wouldn't be surprising to use Britton to lead screens designed to exploit the aggressive blitzing Steelers defense.

Britton will have to do everything he can to make Woodley move laterally instead of vertically. If he can keep him off-balance, he can protect his quarterback.

If not, Gabbert will spend Sunday night in an ice bath.

Steelers Spotlight:  OLB LaMarr Woodley

Woodley stepped his game up against Tennessee, applying consistent pressure and notching his first sack of the season. Tennessee's RT David Stewart is having a much better season than Britton, too, so Woodley will come after the rookie quarterback through land, air and sea. Judging by the marked improvement from Woodley's first four games to his fifth, Woodley should be able to set a dominating tone against the overmatched Jaguars.

Part of the reason for Woodley's improvement from Weeks 1-4 to 5 was his hand placement. He was able to use his hands to gain leverage on Stewart, and move him where Woodley wanted him to go. That got Woodley the extra three or four steps into the backfield he had not been getting prior to Week 5, and the result was more pressure on the passer.

If Woodley can continue to play at that kind of level, he's going to make an already anemic Jaguars passing offense even more sorry. This isn't cagey veteran Matt Hasselbeck; it's statistically the worst quarterback in the NFL. Turnovers will come out of Woodley's pressure.

They only caught one Hasselbeck pass (by Woodley), but they're likely to get a few off Gabbert. All of that will start with Woodley's ability to get past Britton.

I See You

I see you, Doug Legursky. You took a heap of criticism (and a heap of Haloti Ngata) in a rough Week 1 performance in Baltimore when you played right guard. Now, filling in for injured Chris Kemoeatu against Tennessee, you put forward perhaps the best performance of your career. You remember Dwyer's 76-yard run? Your pull and kick-out block was worthy of history. A faster back would have scored, easily. Maybe Max Starks got all the publicity for the revitalized offensive effort, but you're representing the guys who have been fighting together all season, and it's something we all should remember.

Internal improvement is possible. Hard work does pay off. Your versatility is going to be critical this season, and you've shown us now you have the ability to win the battle up front for the team.

Key Stats

  • Jacksonville has scored a total of seven points in the second-half since Week 1.
  • Jacksonville is being outscored 58-13 in the second half this season.
  • QB Ben Roethlisberger was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the seventh time in his career after Week 5.
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