The Steelers were a few plays away from beating the Minnesota Vikings in London. The loss of Larry Foote on defense is continuing to cause major headaches. Vince Williams is learning on the job, and he is experiencing some growing pains in the process.
Football is a cruel sport. One guy misses his run fit, and a great player like Adrian Peterson makes you pay for it. Honestly, if Ike Taylor does not duck his head, he probably gets a concussion form Peterson's knee. The technique that Taylor needs to do here is what is referred to by some as an "Alligator" tackle. This is where you wrap your arms around the runners knees or waist and roll. High school players are pretty good at this because they can practice tackling. Pro players, not so much.
Speaking of poor tackling.
Because of Allen's alignment, he is giving up a quick completion for a first down. Therefore, he needs to exhibit better body control on his approach. He needs to widen his base, quicken his feet, and mirror Greg Jennings. His mistake is compounded by Robert Golden. Golden's angle here is inexcusable.
Allen, Williams and Golden are all young players that got victimized by two very good NFL players. Jennings is good, and Peterson is super-human. The point is to remember is that for the past two weeks, the Steelers have made big plays on offense also. Antonio Brown is on quite the tear.
The difference really comes down to two factors. First, our lack of turnovers on defense. The Steelers make a big play, and their opponents make a big play. Without the big plays, we have a hard time driving the length of the field. That then brings our to our second issue: the lack of solid pass protection and run blocking from the offensive line.
The Steelers are trapped in a sort of vicious cycle right now. They aren't stout enough up front to drive the ball for long drives, and we constantly have to drive the ball for long chunks of real estate because we don't cause turnovers and thus get a short field.
But, the outlook is not entirely bleak.
This is a beautifully blocked play. David Johnson block Jared Allen so well that you can't even see Allen. Heath Miller pins the linebacker. Will Johnson kicks out the safety. However, the best part about this play is rookie running back Le'Veon Bell. I was actually surprised to see Bell in this role. Oftentimes, taller running backs have a difficult time lowering their pad level in these types of situations. Moreover, taller running backs have a longer stride. Both of these factors normally make them ineffective (or not as effective) in short yardage and/or goal line situations.
Bell puts both of those worries to rest. First, he does a great job with his pad level. His shoulders are square and he is very low. Also, he is able to shorten his stride, but still generate power. The Steelers have had problems in the red zone for some time now. To improve your red zone offense, you improve your red zone running game. The Steelers have reason to be optimistic about their red zone offense with Bell.
The good news is that the Steelers have to start getting some turnovers eventually. Right now, there are a statistical anomaly. They simply can't continue like this. That, and the emergence of Brown and Bell on offense should give us some hope for the last 3 quarters of the season.
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