When the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Jacksonville Jaguars, an AFC rival, there is not a lot of uncertainty surrounding the matchup.
These two teams know each other well, and although it is their first meeting of the season, there are still some unknowns surrounding the game.
With that said, I reached out to Big Cat Country contributor Ryan O’Bleness and asked him a series of questions about the upcoming game. He was more than generous to provide answers to these questions, and in this article I asked him how the Jaguars plan to counter the Steelers in Week 11?
How will the Jaguars and Jake Luton try to move the ball against the stout Steelers defense, and how will Myles Jack and company try to slow down Ben Roethlisberger and James Conner?
Check out his answers below, and be sure to follow Big Cat Country for the latest news and notes from the other side of the fence leading up to the game at 1:00p.m. ET.
When the Jaguars have the ball, how will they try to move the ball?
With Gardner Minshew still out with a hand injury and rookie Jake Luton starting at quarterback once again for the Jaguars, expect a heavy dose of fellow rookie James Robinson in the running game. Jacksonville leaned on Robinson last week against the Green Bay Packers, as he carried the ball 23 times for 109 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and added two receptions. This was a game many, myself included, thought the Jags would lose by at least three scores, but the team fought hard against a very good Packers team and ended up falling just short, by a final score of 24-20. Robinson’s play was a big reason why the game was so competitive.
The Jaguars will still give Luton plenty of opportunities to pass — he threw it 35 times last week and 38 times the previous week against the Houston Texans — but his play has been inconsistent and he can’t carry the offense by himself. if the Jaguars are going to have success offensively, it starts with Robinson and the ground attack. Robinson actually now holds the record for most yards from scrimmage for an undrafted free agent, with that number now at 917 total yards.
You may also see some things from time-to-time like pre-snap motion and a little bit of deception from offensive coordinator Jay Gruden looking to create any potential matchup advantages he can.
When the Steelers have the ball, how will the Jaguars’ defense attempt to stop Ben Roethlisberger and company?
The Jaguars generally play a cover-three zone in coverage, but the issue with that is the team fails to generate much of a pass rush — ranking dead last in the NFL with just nine sacks (an average of just one per game) — so quarterbacks have been able to pick apart the defense pretty regularly this season. So, basically I expect Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh wide receivers to have a field day. The Jaguars won’t blitz a ton (hence some of the pass rushing woes) and want to play it safe most of the time with four players rushing and seven in coverage.
Unfortunately, this has not worked out well for Jackosnville. The team struggles in both pass coverage and stopping the run. In fact, the Jaguars rank 31st in defensive DVOA, while ranking in the bottom three of the NFL in points per game allowed, total yards allowed and passing yards allowed. Against the run isn’t much better, ranking 25th at 131.7 yards allowed per contest.
So, quite honestly, I wouldn’t anticipate a lot of stops from Jacksonville’s defense, although the team did surprisingly cause two turnovers last week — picking off Aaron Rodgers once and forcing Davante Adams to fumble. If the Jags have any chance of winning, the defense need to generate takeaways against Big Ben and the Steelers.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1:00 p.m. ET in Week 11.