The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 of the 2019 regular season. After starting the year with a 2-4 record, the Steelers prepare to host the Dolphins on Monday Night Football at Heinz Field.
Since this is a relatively familiar matchup for the Steelers, playing another AFC team, many fans might feel as if they know everything about this matchup. But the truth is there are a lot of different pieces of the overall puzzle between both of these teams, especially with the Dolphins’ roster going through such an overhaul throughout the season.
So, I wanted to get a lowdown on what the Dolphins might have in store for the Steelers by talking with The Phinsider, SB Nation’s Dolphins website, editor Kevin Nogle to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.
In this first of many installments, I asked Kevin what he thinks the Dolphins will do when they have the ball and trying to move the ball on the Steelers’ defense. Check out his response:
Miami has been a little more difficult to read the last couple of weeks, in part because they changed quarterbacks again and in part because players are starting to find roles for themselves. The screen pass seems like a big part of the offense, but that was under Josh Rosen - they did not seem to run it as often last week with Ryan Fitzpatrick back under center. Fitzpatrick is open to throwing the ball downfield more than Rosen, even though I feel like Rosen throws a better deep ball. We are starting to see tight end Mike Gesicki get involved in the passing game, which is a welcome addition to the game.
The team has not run the ball much, it just does not seem like an important part of the game - especially when the team has been behind as much as they have been this season. Keynan Drake is quickly disappearing from the offense, with Mark Walton sliding in as both the starter and the main runner. Drake has a role still, particularly as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, but it is becoming less and less each week.
The offensive line is a concern, though they played pretty well against a strong Buffalo defense last week. The team is on to lineup six for the offensive line, so it has simply been a revolving door of players trying to plug holes from either poor play, additions from roster moves, or injuries. I would like to tell you where you can attack, but really, it is different every game, so I do not even know where to say the strong or weak spots are ahead of Monday night.
Running a similar feature on his site, I responded to the same question, but how the Steelers’ defense will try and stop the Dolphins’ offense in prime time. Here is my response:
The Steelers defensive calling card falls into two categories: Sacks and takeaways. They rank in the top three teams in the NFL in sacks, and are also near the top in takeaways, and this is all with a Week 7 bye. The Steelers will disguise their pressure, but there is no disguise with their plan -- pressure the quarterback and force turnovers. Last season the Steelers had 15 takeaways on the season, and they accomplished the same feat in six games this year. A testament to players like Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt delivering the goods on the field, but also a testament to Keith Butler’s system finally starting to come to fruition.
Not that this defense doesn’t have issues, because they do. They haven’t been a solid tackling group in the early portions of the regular season and have given up a lot of yardage on the ground. If the Dolphins want to move the ball on the Steelers they need to utilize the run game and hit play action, primarily to the tight end down the seam.
Will the Steelers be able to get to Ryan Fitpatrick early and often in this contest? Or will ‘Fitzmagic’ return at Heinz Field?
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 Dolphins in Week 8.