Jets rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson doesn't just stand out on film, it's like he owns it. New York is using him in different situations and different positions - including some fullback on short-yardage downs - and he's showing he's not only worth the 13th pick in the draft, but he could have gone higher.
Richardson has a unique combination of speed and power, and he's creating problems for offenses both as a pass rusher (2.5 sacks in five games) and a a run-stopper (combining with Damon Harrison to form one of the best run defenses in the NFL).
Simply put, the Jets haven't restocked their defense, they've brought it to elite level in just one off-season.
The Steelers offensive line is going to struggle in this game, as many teams against the Jets will this season. Velasco will have his biggest challenge to date. Richardson plays leverage well, and when he's not bullrushing the A or B gap, he's seeing where the ball is, and making a move based on where the guy blocking him is.
The problem of Richardson is compounded by the presence of Muhammad Wilkerson, who has a similar power-and-quickness combination with the same free-form assignment pattern.
Velasco's in for a really tough game, and without equally outstanding performances from guard Ramon Foster and David DeCastro, the Steelers can expect another 13 third-down attempts from long yardage. Teams cannot run the ball on the Jets, and a coordinated effort highlighted more by strategy than brawn could make that happen. There can't be any mental mistakes up front, however, because the Jets' defensive line is too fluid as a unit.
It'll be a long game if they can't protect the A and B gaps.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers vs. Jets Pregame Stream
- The Standard is The Standard Show, Steelers vs. Jets Week 6
- Defensive key matchup: Polamalu vs. Smith
- Fantasy Football: Which Steelers to start/sit
- 5 reasons the Steelers will beat the Jets in Week 6
- Steelers vs. Jets Week 6: TV schedule game time, odds, weather and more
- Reviewing the Steelers roster after multiple transactions
- Polamalu: 'If attitude won games, we'd go out and get cheerleaders'
- LeBeau is 15-2 against rookie quarterbacks, like Jets Geno Smith
- Steelers vs. Jets Preview: Gut check time at MetLife Stadium