The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2 NFL action, and like any week the Steelers are tasked with checking off a few key details if they want to win the game. The biggest box they have to check this week is slowing down superstar tight end, Darren Waller. Waller may have overtaken Travis Kelce and George Kittle as the best tight end in football, and has quickly become Derek Carr’s favorite weapon. Waller is already in the middle of one of the greatest week-by-week statistical outputs by a tight end in NFL history. Plain and simple, the guy is on fire and must be cooled down.
Darren Waller's last six games:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 14, 2021
* 10 catches, 105 yards, 1 TD
* 9 catches, 117 yards, 1 TD
* 5 catches, 112 yards
* 9 catches, 150 yards, 1 TD
* 7 catches, 75 yards
* 13 catches, 200 yards, 2 TD
Much like the Steelers game against the Buffalo Bills, the main key is stopping a big play receiving option. The Steelers were able to limit Stefon Diggs to just 69 yards on 9 receptions (14 targets). While Diggs still got the ball plenty, the Steelers didn't allow him to beat them over the top, and tackled him whenever the ball was in his hands. Diggs and Waller are both capable of taking any reception to the end zone, and beating a team single-handedly. If the Steelers want to beat the Raiders, they will have to do to Waller what they accomplished vs. Diggs.
The three guys that will be most tasked with slowing Waller will be Terrell Edmunds (who has been a tight end eraser as of late), Devin Bush, and Joe Schobert. I also anticipate Minkah Fitzpatrick sniffing around Waller’s zones, but they will need guys that can cover but also take down a 6’6” 250 pound tight end. The Steelers should also be seriously thinking about double teaming Waller with a linebacker in man, and a safety over the top. He is good enough to win games on his own and one of the reasons the Raiders have remained relevant.
Luckily for the Steelers, star running back Josh Jacobs is nursing a foot injury and is coming back from a sickness, meaning the Steelers should be able to get away with sending extra help Waller’s way. After that, the Steelers will look to slow down Hunter Renfrow (Carr’s favorite late down receiving option), the emerging Bryan Edwards, the speedster Henry Ruggs, as well as Willie Sneed and Zay Jones. The Raiders clearly have some dudes in their receiving corps, but Waller is by far their crown piece and must be dealt with first and foremost.
But what do you think? Will the Steelers be able to control Waller like they were able to do to Stefon Diggs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.