The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 of the 2019 regular season. After Week 1 the Steelers are limping back home after being smacked around by the Patriots in New England; however, the Seahawks were able to squeak out a home victory vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in front of the ‘12th Man’.
Since this is a unique matchup for the Steelers, hosting an NFC West team, there is a lot fans don’t know about these type of teams. And that is okay, but what I wanted to do was to get a lowdown on what the Seahawks might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Field Gulls, SB Nation’s Seahawks website, editor Kenneth Arthur to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.
In this second of many installments, I asked Arthur what he thinks the Seahawks will do when they have they are on defense and trying to stop the Steelers’ offense. Check out his response:
When the Steelers have the ball, you can expect the Seahawks to heavily utilize their 2019 linebacking corps to their advantage. Since the Legion of Boom officially lost its last member in Week 4 of last season when Earl Thomas broke his leg, the team has had to re-focus its defense on its new strength: the front 7.
In Week 1, we saw Seattle use three linebackers on over 90% of their defensive snaps and when the third linebacker was Bruce Irvin or Malcolm Smith or Barkevious Mingo it was nowhere near that figure. It was more like 30% with a nickel corner out their 70% of the time.
Instead, Seattle struggled to replace Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman so they turned to Mychal Kendricks. They turned to K.J. Wright. And just before this season, they traded for Jadeveon Clowney. Last week it was Quinton Jefferson getting the start at defensive end opposite of Clowney and he had two sacks, two batted passes in the game of his life. This week, Ezekiel Ansah makes his Seahawks debut.
Where the Seahawks are expected to be hurting in their front-seven is defensive tackle though, as Poona Ford is hurt and likely out, while Jarran Reed serves a six game suspension. That could have Jefferson and Clowney playing some inside. This is a long-winded answer to say that I expect them to blitz Big Ben, they led the NFL in blitzes in Week 1, use their linebackers to pressure him, and they’ll try to close off any hope for James Conner and the run game early.
With a weaker secondary (Bradley McDougald and Shaquill Griffin could be the strengths at the moment, with Tre Flowers being inconsistent and Lano Hill potentially making his first start after Tedric Thompson got injured) the Steelers might find success going to JuJu Smith-Schuster over and over again. This one could have a lot of passing yards, though Seattle’s offense will still try and filter through the run game.
As with most games, this game will likely come down to the offensive line. Can the Steelers keep Clowney and company away from Roethlisberger? If they can, as Arthur depicts above, they should be able to find space in the passing game. However, if the Seahawks are getting to Roethlisberger, they will have to lean on James Conner and the running game, which isn’t a certainty at this juncture of the season.
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 Seahawks in Week 2.