The Pittsburgh Steelers have another tough test ahead of them in Week 5 of the 2021 regular season when they host the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are 3-1 after a Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, and with players like Javonte Williams, Teddy Bridgewater and Von Miller, the Steelers will have their hands full.
With all the talk about the big name players for Denver, it isn’t as if their roster is perfect. In fact, there are plenty of issues on both sides of the ball. Every unit has their weaknesses. This week I was able to ask Joe Rowles of Mile High Report several questions leading up to the Week 5 matchup. One of those questions was where he thought the weakness on the Broncos’ offense resided.
Here is what he said about the offense:
Injuries are a huge part of where this Broncos team is right now and they’ve hurt the offense most. Teddy Bridgewater is in concussion protocol after the Baltimore game so Drew Lock could start against the Steelers. If he does, I expect Pat Shurmur to cater the gameplan to his strengths and take out some of the things we’ve seen Denver use the first three weeks of the year such as empty sets. Through his career to date, Lock has shown marginal mental processing, mechanics, and anticipation, which makes his accuracy sporadic. The offense will be more reliant on big plays and less consistent from down to down if he’s starting.
Beyond the quarterback question, the Broncos have two proven wide receivers who made the roster out of training camp. Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler’s injuries made it easy for the Ravens to hang out in man coverage last week because neither Courtland Sutton or Tim Patick are top flight separators. The hope in Broncos Country is more time in the Shurmur offense makes David Moore a factor, but when Denver’s operating out of 11 personnel it’s like they’re fighting with a hand tied behind their back right now. What makes this even worse is the injuries to Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow left Quinn Meinerz and Netane Muti in the starting lineup. Both are young, inexperienced players who could be at a huge disadvantage against the Steelers pressure scheme.
The Broncos’ offensive line, going against the stout Steelers’ defensive front, should have their hands full on Sunday, but what about the Denver defense? Where are the kinks in their armor?
On defense, the Broncos biggest issues are their overdependence on Von Miller to create a consistent pass rush. I’m eager to see if that continues this week as the interior defensive line looks like they should have the upper hand against Pittsburgh’s offensive line, but it’s been a recurring problem so far this year. When Miller sits to catch his breath, we could see Roethlisberger try to check to a shot play to take advantage of the lack of edge rush.
Depth behind the premier pass rusher is something the Steelers saw plenty of when T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith both missed time with groin injuries. Nonetheless, if Miller does need a break, the Steelers could certainly take advantage.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for Week 5 of the 2021 regular season.