It has been noted in the Steelers Film Room that the defense needed to do a better job of attacking the football when making tackles. There is a difference between getting turnovers and forcing a take-away. Here is a great example of the latter:
Will Allen punches the football as he goes in to secure this tackle. This is something that James Harrison had mastered in his prime, and, regrettably, no Steeler has been up to the task since injuries slowed Harrison in the twilight of his Steeler career.
As was noted in the preseason, Jarvis Jones has shown a tendency in this area. And, Jones did knock down two passes on Sunday. Hopefully, Jones will continue to grow in this area. But, let's take nothing away from Will Allen here. This is a great play, and an example of what more Steeler defenders need to be doing over the course of the last seven games.
Not in the GIF, but also worth noting, was Lawrence Timmons scooping the ball up and embarking on a nice return. Timmons continues to be all over the field, and with the exception of the opening play against the Oakland Raiders, he continues to have a great year.
Some ink has been spilled lately on the double teams that Heath Miller has been receiving the past few weeks. We see an example of that on the following play, and how Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown were able to expoit the focus on Miller.
A lot of good things happen on this play. First, Detroit is playing with one high safety, and the corners play deep thirds. The Steelers are able to occupy the three deep defenders with Le'Veon Bell and Emmanuel Sanders running vertical routes. Sanders, especially, does a great job of not looking back at the QB until he gets to 10 yards. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Receivers must make a decision as to how they are going to run their vertical route after their ninth step (at least) and not before. That detail is what allows the offense to throw things like the fade-stop with some success. For example, after his ninth step, which is timed with the quarterback's drop, if the receiver makes the decision that the defender has him capped, he will turn his route into a fade-stop. Once again, since that timing corresponds with the quarterback's drop, the quarterback is able to read the same thing and make the appropriate throw.
With this route, because Sanders does not look back for the ball early (as you will notice the less-experienced Bell does), both the the safety and the corner retreat because they know Sanders is going deep. You''ll also notice that the Detroit linebacker tries to get underneath Heath Miller, which leaves a huge window for Ben to hit Brown.
Bell makes up for not driving the corner deep (for the reasons I mentioned above, you'll see the corner is not nearly as deep as the safety and the corner covering Sanders) with some excellent downfield blocking. Sanders also contributes some great blocking.
What also needs mentioned is the great blocking from the offensive line. The line gives Roethlisberger time to hit Brown in stride. Brown lets his ability to run after the catch take over.
This is a great example of all eleven guys on offense doing their jobs and a big play resulting.
This might be my favorite play of the year, so far:
I mean, what is not to love about watching a defensive back throw a temper tantrum on the 10 yard line, while the ball is in the air, because the defense bit so bad on the fake bubble screen?
The Steelers have thrown this play about five times this year and have been successful, to my memory, every time. From here on out, it really doesn't matter if they complete it again. The defense has to respect it, and that is what allows the Steelers to throw wide receiver screens on 3rd and long.
The Steelers are very multiple on offense right now. They are giving defenses a lot to prepare for. Two weeks ago they ran a play that college teams like Baylor run to death. It is really two plays packaged into one. The huddle call is inside zone and packaged with it is a route by the receiver to fill the void left by the linebacker if he fills run hard. The image below is a good illustration of the concept, with the illustration using a draw run instead of inside zone.
This play puts the linebacker in conflict. Much like the play highlighted in the GIF puts the corner in a conflict.
It will be interesting to see if the return of Ramon Foster to the offensive line will allow the Steeler running game to return to the form it had in the first half of the Buffalo game. It will be a challenge against a good Cleveland defense. If the Steeler offensive line is up to the challenge, this offense might really get on a bigger roll.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- 5 Burning Questions leading into Week 12 vs. Browns
- Will Allen dishes on Cowboys' 'micromanaging' style
- Colts sign Chris Rainey
- Roethlisberger named AFC Offensive Player of the Week
- Steelers didn't change coverage much in second half
- Meet Ray Graham, the newest Steelers roster addition
- Steelers vs. Browns: Tomlin anticipates return of Woodley, Keisel and Foster
- Steelers TE Matt Spaeth to be evaluated this week