Steelers TE Heath Miller continues to impress with each passing week. While his two touchdowns stand out on the stat sheet, he showed his athleticism and power on two pancake blocks during the first half of the Steelers' 27-10 win over the Jets in Week 2.
A few other things stood out in the first 30 minutes of this game. Below the jump are my thoughts.
Steelers/Jets Coverage: Van Dyke | Roster Review | Big Ben Adapting | Welcome Back Clark | Offensive Play Totals | Defensive Play Totals | Game Story | Inside The Stats: Offense |
- You gotta be thinking offensive coordinator Todd Haley is either the most patient, tolerant man in the world (and is so because the Steelers aren't taping his phone the way he was accusing the Chiefs of doing), or he's chewing glass behind the scenes. RG Ramon Foster struggled early on the ground, and it seems Willie Colon can hit moving targets (sometimes), but struggles to stop the ones in front of him.
- p.s. the KC Star absolutely shredded general manager Scott Pioli the other day. Rare to see a paper rake a GM over coals to that extent.
- You get them all moving, though, it's a different story. Antonio Brown's 11-yard run on 3rd-and-10 was a thing of beauty. Heath Miller not only drives a lowly and undersized defensive back four yards down the field, but he slams him to the ground in a way that hurt just to see.
- Wallace makes two catches on the drive, one on a deep curl, one on a short hitch. Routes are crisp, creates plenty of separation between himself and coverage (Antonio Cromartie). His deep speed helps him chew up space between himself and the defender, but his reputation is what is getting him open.
- In other words, he's not a one-trick pony. Mike Tomlin's helmet-slap of Wallace as he walks off the field after the second catch lends further weight to the theory Wallace Haters will have to find another reason to complain.
- Haley silently chews more glass as Roethlisberger changes the play at the line of scrimmage (wisely) or makes some kind of adjustment. Willie Colon pulls to his right, and trips over right tackle Marcus Gilbert just as Isaac Redman gets the ball. FB Will Johnson trips over Colon, and Calvin Pace is there to stuff Redman for a three-yard loss. Ugh...
- We may rip on Rex Ryan for a variety things that are pretty much fair game to rip on, but he's one smart dude. A perfectly executed blitz on 3rd-and-7 puts Roethlisberger on the ground (although he did almost escape). The Jets lined up two tackles over C Maurkice Pouncey, and brought the defensive end crashing down on Pouncey and Foster. Both tackles stunted off the end (Garrett McIntyre) when he blindsided Pouncey, giving both of them free run at Roethlisberger. That forced Ben to step up just as he finished dropping back. He tried to run out of it but got tripped up.
- And McIntyre WHIPPED Pouncey. I'll take two of him, please, to go. That guy gets after it.
- Maybe it's just me but Keenan Lewis plays confused. After the Jets' illegal substitution penalty, Ryan Clark makes an adjustment to counter the Jets' lining up in trips to the offensive right side. It appears the Steelers are covering in man, and Lewis seems to read run on the snap - he takes his press coverage with him about eight yards down the field. Amazing he didn't draw a flag, considering how many penalties the secondary had in this game.
- Then Lewis tries to tackle the rather large Mark Sanchez by the neck, and falls off him like meat from a bone.
- Lewis gets victimized again, this time on a smash route between Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill. The defense appears to be in a cover 2, although Lewis doesn't seem to be aware of it. Ryan Mundy is in zone covering the slot. Lewis bites on Hill's hitch route, and Kerley slips in behind him.
- The Steelers ran a lot of different personnel packages on the first two drives. On 2nd-and-13, Sanchez does a nice job of seeing the overloaded offensive right side, which stacked LaMarr Woodley, Chris Carter, Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons over the tackle and guard. Woodley got a great jump off the ball, as Carter, Timmons and Foote peel off into coverage. Ziggy Hood was playing nose and Cam Heyward was over the left guard. The defense is really running a corner blitz, bringing both Cortez Allen to take out the tackle, and Ike Taylor around him, and used the linebackers to distract Sanchez. Their protection picks it up nicely and Sanchez completes the pass. After that, I was worried. The Jets were in a good rhythm, and Sanchez was making good throws. It wouldn't last.
- While Taylor is likely to get the blame for Sanchez's touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, Clark bites on the play fake, drawing him up off the goal line, and Sanchez's throw goes uncontested behind him and to his left. If Clark stays home, he's likely going to float right into the passing window, and there was only one option on the throw. The play was designed to suck Clark in, and it worked.
- Holmes is one of the best in the game on slant routes. He has no fear and he's able to make the catch and make himself small to protect the ball. Taylor seems more concerned with a fade route, which would have been a far more difficult throw. It's possible though Taylor is favoring that kind of route because Clark is in the middle to help on the slant.
- My favorite part of the game so far is the big grass stain covering the "NKS" of the last name on the back of Ellis Lankster's jersey. It was put there by Heath Miller, who's absolutely flattened the guy twice now. A quick screen to Brown goes for 10 yards.
- Roethlisberger started off 5-for-5 for 68 yards. His sixth throw could have been tipped, it could have been just dropped by Emmanuel Sanders, it could have been both. Either way, he looks great, and that back shoulder throw to Brown was another beauty.
- McIntyre is a beast. He's not even their regular starter (yet). I'll take three, please. To go.
- Wallace doing some more of that one-trick pony stuff. Great curl outside in to move the linebacker off him in zone coverage. Cromartie even bites on the outside lean Wallace gave him.
- Gotta knock Roethlisberger for failing to recognize the defense on that Statue of Liberty/end around play they tried to run. Brown comes down in motion, exposing the fact the Jets are in zone. That play isn't going to work because of that. Safety LaRon Landry is planted on the line.
- At the same time, if the Jets were in man, and Landry was covering Brown, the Steelers would have a significant advantage. Ben should have noticed both that the Jets were in zone, meaning the two defenders on the edge weren't moving, and the play was designed for Pouncey to lead the block to that side with no one else. Pace crashed down, and is blocked by Pouncey, but Landry is right there to make the play. Quinton Coples beats Foster pretty badly too, leading to the removal of that play from the book.
- Coverage really tightens up on the Jets' 3rd-and-3, but the sticks move after Timmons cracks Sanchez in the head, costing them 15 yards.
- Timmons will no doubt be fined for that. Here's the question the NFL would hate to be asked, but is $15,000 and an automatic first down in exchange for a quarterback going 6-for-22 the rest of the game a bad trade? Since it's not our money, I think we will all answer affirmatively.
- Not to completely savage the offensive line, both Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have made some interesting choices as far as where to run. Dwyer missed what looked to be a good enough hole on his first carry, cutting back and getting taken down for a yard.
- This LaRon Landry sure is proving his worth. On the Steelers' touchdown drive to end the first half, he got beat in coverage, committed a ridiculously stupid personal foul and completely whiffed on a blitz that had Roethlisberger dead-to-rights inside their 10-yard line.
- Miller caps off a great first half by simply beating the completely outmatched David Harris to the wide side of the field for the score.
Second half coming up next