The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for Week 4 of the 2022 regular season with a visit from the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium. A tough task for the Steelers who have lost two straight games and enter the contest with a 1-2 record.
With this being such a big game, not like every game isn’t a big game, I was able to ask MacGregor Wells of Gang Green Nation, SB Nation’s New York Jets website, five questions leading up to the game.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
When it comes to the Jets quarterback situation, is there anything you like about Joe Flacco’s game which makes you want him to be the guy under center in Week 4 in Pittsburgh, or is the fan base wanting Zach Wilson back ASAP?
I’m not sure I can speak for the entire Jets fanbase, but judging from the discussions at Gang Green Nation, I would say most Jets fans have seen enough of Joe Flacco and are eager to get Zach Wilson back under center. This isn’t so much about being convinced Wilson is going to be great (there are still serious questions about his future), as much as it is about being convinced Flacco is no longer a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL. Flacco is as immobile a quarterback as you can find in the NFL, his arm isn’t what it used to be, he no longer throws a great deep ball, he seems afraid to try to fit the ball into tight windows, and in general he appears to be looking for the check down on most plays. The result has been a Jets offense stuck in neutral. It’s difficult to win that way. Wilson may not be any better. He struggled through much of his rookie season. But for better or worse, Wilson was the #2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft and the Jets need to play him, both because he offers at least a chance at being much better than Flacco level, as well as to determine how the Jets want to approach the draft next year.
The Jets’ offensive line has been beat up, especially at tackle. How has the group held up in protecting the quarterback. On top of that, how should the Steelers’ defense attack the New York offense to stop their production?
The Jets offensive line has been mediocre at best in protecting the quarterback. The tackle position has been a sore spot. Starter Mekhi Becton went down with a season ending knee injury before the season got underway. The Jets signed Duane Brown to replace Becton, and he went down with an injury before the season got underway. Now George Fant has ben placed on IR with a knee injury, and the Jets are reduced to starting Conor McDermott, a 30 year old journeyman who really doesn’t belong in the NFL, at left tackle, and Max Mitchell, a 4th round rookie who was originally slated to warm the bench in a developmental year, starting at right tackle. It’s a mess. Mitchell has held his own as much as you can expect for a 4th round rookie, but he’s hardly a huge strength yet for the Jets. McDermott is a turnstile at left tackle. Attack him with your best pass rushers and watch the sacks and pressures pile up.
The New York defense seems to be a hit-or-miss unit. They have some great players, and some tremendous young talent, but what is the way for the Steelers offense to move the ball against the Jets?
The best way to move the ball against the Jets is to concentrate on getting your weapons isolated in coverage against Jets safeties and linebackers. The Jets do not have any safeties or linebackers who are above average in coverage, and most are well below average. Any team with decent targets at tight end and running back should have a field day throwing to those guys against the Jets safeties and linebackers.
In addition, Jets opponents have taken advantage of blown coverages by the safeties to complete a number of big plays downfield.
Who are some under-the-radar players Steelers fans might want to keep an eye on, and who might make an impact in the game Sunday?
When the Jets are on defense I would keep an eye on defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers. He was a waiver wire pickup when the Rams cut him a few years back. After spending his first year with the Jets on injured reserve, Franklin-Myers has been getting better and better. He can play inside and on the edge, and he puts a good deal of pressure on the quarterback. Cornerback D.J. Reed, signed by the Jets in free agency this past offseason, has also been playing extremely well. He might surprise Steelers fans with how effective he is in coverage.
On offense, I’m not sure he’s under-the-radar as the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but Garrett Wilson has surprised Jets fans with how quickly he has taken over the WR1 spot for the Jets. Almost over night he’s become the go to guy in the Jets passing game. Wilson very much looks the part of a #1 receiver in the NFL, at least as much as we can determine after a tiny three game sample size.
The Steelers are 3-point home favorites, at the time of this being written, and it is the first time they’ve been favored in a game this season. Do you see the Jets being able to at least keep it close, or even pull off the upset on the road? How do you see the game playing out?
I confess I am not at all a fan of Mitchell Trubisky. The Steelers are a great franchise with a proud history, and they have some great players, but I find it difficult to fear an offense led by Trubisky. I will be surprised if the Jets don’t at least keep this game competitive, because I can’t see Trubisky leading an offensive explosion. Nonetheless, the Jets have problems of their own, with a turnstile at left tackle and a quarterback who struggled mightily last year and hasn’t played, outside of a few preseason snaps, since last season. The Steelers have traditionally given the Jets all kinds of trouble, and it isn’t easy beating the Steelers at home. So, though I think an upset here is not out of reach, it’s not the way to bet. I’m guessing the Steelers find a way to win a low scoring contest.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 4 matchup vs. the Jets this Sunday in Pittsburgh.