The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 of the 2019 regular season. After dropping four of their first five games to start the season, they face a Chargers team who also searching to get back in the win column after a loss to the Broncos in Week 5.
This isn’t a unique matchup for the Steelers. They know their AFC West rivals very well, and lost a game at Heinz Field to Philip Rivers and company in 2018. But there are different faces in the lineup so I wanted to do was to get the lowdown on what the Chargers might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Bolts from the Blue, SB Nation’s Chargers website, editor Richard Wade to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.
In this second installment, I asked Richard what he thinks the Chargers offense will do when tasked with moving the ball on the Steelers’ defense. Check out his response:
The Chargers will probably do the same thing they try to do against everyone else. Even after seeing that Melvin Gordon’s return hurt the flow of the offense, Ken Whisenhunt will no doubt do everything he can to get the former first-round pick going. This will mean wasting plays that could have gone to the superior playmaker, Austin Ekeler.
That said, regardless of who is getting the ball out of the backfield, the offense will endeavor to get them the ball in space. This is actually a strength of Whisenhunt, and one can reasonably expect the Chargers will break at least a few plays for big gains with clever play designs on screens or outside running plays that utilize misdirection.
Beyond the backfield, the Chargers will continue to allow Keenan Allen to do what he does best: beat man coverage. The Cal product is one of the finest route runners I have ever had the pleasure of watching, and he gets open every week no matter who he is lined up against him. That is unlikely to change this week.
The team will also probably waste a handful of plays trying to get Travis Benjamin involved and they will be lucky if those plays result in incompletions and not big losses or turnovers. The biggest mystery, though, is will Hunter Henry be ready to play? They keep hinting that he might, but there is no clear indication either way. If he does, you can expect him to be a key contributor on 3rd down plays and any red-zone opportunities, but he would also likely be limited to some unknown low-ish number of snaps.
Granted, if the offensive line keeps playing as badly as they have for the first 5 weeks, it’s possible none of that will matter and it will just come down to whether or not Philip Rivers can get the ball away before he gets killed.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is turning into the calling card for their team. As the team prepares to trot out there third quarterback of the season in Devlin Hodges, it will be up to the defense to do what they do best — pressure the quarterback and take the football away.
Through 5 games the Steelers rank 3rd in the NFL in sacks (19) and tied for first in takeaways (12). If you want to win on the road with a backup quarterback you have to play awesome defense, and create extra possessions for the offense. This will be paramount, and with the Chargers’ offensive line in shambles, it is a realistic goal to set.
If the Steelers can’t win the battle along the line of scrimmage, it could be a long day, especially with the Chargers looking to throw to whoever Artie Burns is covering on any particular play. This game will be won or lost with the Steelers defense.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to keep tabs on BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Chargers in Week 6.