The Pittsburgh Steelers have an offense which is something to behold. They are the NFL’s top red-zone offense, and rank third in 3rd down conversions. All while boosting their points-per-game average over 30 for the first time this season, 31 to be exact and that would be 4th in the NFL.
When you sit back and try to imagine what it would be like for a defensive coordinator to game plan for Pittsburgh’s offense, it has to be a giant headache. With players like Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and now James Conner bursting on the scene, it is enough to keep defensive coordinators up at night.
With the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Steelers in Week 11, head coach Doug Marrone outlined just how difficult it will be to defend such a potent offense. This per Teresa Varley of the Steelers’ official website:
“There is always a concern with the tight ends from the scheme of things. It is tough when you look at it and you see one of the best wide receivers in football on one end. Another young, upcoming star on this end and then a running back that is playing well and a quarterback that has been doing it for all these years. You can go down the line. An offensive line that has played together for a long time. There are different guys and different things you have to look at, but they are part of it. They are a big part of it. We have to be able to – I think that is what makes it so difficult when you defend Pittsburgh – they have a bunch of good players out there. They have a Pro Bowl running back, potentially two Pro Bowl wide receivers, a Pro Bowl quarterback and some Pro Bowl offensive lineman. Then you look at the tight ends. Vance [McDonald] – I have known for a long time. We wanted to take him when I was in Buffalo. We were trying to take him. I did a lot on him. I know what type of player he is and obviously Jesse [James] is from Penn State, and I know the job that he has done. It is a challenge and that is why it is going to take all eleven guys to do the right thing, do their job, know their role to defend this team.”
While some might chalk this up to nothing more than “coach speak”, Marrone’s diagnosis and dissecting of the Pittsburgh offense is anything but exaggerated. Trying to stop an offense, buoyed by a tremendous offensive line, who can both run and pass with equal precision is a tall task.
When listening to the talking heads of the NFL media landscape, you never hear the Steelers offense mentioned when they talk about the best in the league. You hear about the New Orleans Saints, the New England Patriots and even the Los Angeles Rams before you hear about the boys from Pittsburgh. Marrone realizes the challenge which lies ahead, and the Steelers hope to live up to the hype on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.