Pittsburgh Steelers players, coaches and fans got a glimpse of their next opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders, on Monday Night Football while playing the Steelers’ division foe, the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. I say the Steelers got a glimpse because game plans change from week to week and opponent to opponent. Though I doubt very highly that Jon Gruden will shy away from trying to get Darren Waller the ball, here are just a few thoughts on the Steelers’ next opponent.
19 targets. That’s correct, 19 targets to the crazy talented Tight End Darren Waller. At one point any Tight End sent shivers down Steelers fans’ spines, but this guy is one of the league’s best and a match up nightmare for any team.
The word on the street is the Steelers have been better in the recent past in covering that position, but those fears linger in the back of my mind. Now, as the Week 1 Monday night game progressed Derek Carr realized he had some other weapons, Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, each had decent game of their own. While they present problems all by themselves, Waller is key to shutting down Gruden’s offense. So how do the Steelers defend this? Carr is going to look to get the ball to him along with chunk plays down the field.
Another thing which caught my eye. Looking at the depth charts, it appears T.J. Watt will be opposite rookie Right Tackle Alex Leatherwood. Leatherwood was a first round pick whose name was thrown around these parts as a potential draft prospect. As the draft process went along, it was thought his stock would drop due to various reasons. Some even said he could move inside or move from the blindside to the opposite end. I personally think Leatherwood struggles at staying engaged, and in Monday night’s game he looked slow at times coming off the snap.
In my humble opinion, they are going to have to get this young man some help when trying to block Watt, whose style of play seems to go against Leatherwood’s weaknesses. Will they keep a TE in to help block? It probably won’t be Waller, but if the pressure from the Pittsburgh Trio is there, some of those downfield throws may be limited. They also could be rushed, and the way that secondary was flying around I look for some serious splash coming on Sunday.
Maxx Crosby 4-3 LDE and Carl Nassib 4-3 RDE
On a different note, the Steelers Offensive Line better find a way to get these guys blocked. Corralling Lamar Jackson isn’t an easy task, but this duo was able to continually put pressure on the Ravens’ MVP quarterback. Totaling 3 sacks, two by Crosby and one by Nassib, who also had a Forced Fumble. The duo also had 6 QB hits. Just as I mentioned with the Leatherwood/Watt matchup, Crosby will be going against Chuks Okorafor, not something fans should look forward to watching. The newly formed offensive line will have their hands full Sunday in the friendly confines of Heinz Field. The Raiders also have Yannik Ngakoue whose status is up in the air listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.
I’m interested in hearing some of your thoughts on Las Vegas as we draw nearer to Sunday, so use the comment section below to talk about the upcoming game.
As always, stay safe, and Go Steelers!