The Steelers' tight end missed the first two games of the 2013 season, and the Steelers are 0-2. Coincidence? The issue isn't the absence of Miller as it is the presence of any of the Steelers' back-ups. This team also lost TE Matt Spaeth during training camp, and have been operating primarily with David Paulson trying to block on the edge. There's been little help provided. Miller at 75 percent is likely better than Paulson at 110 percent. They will need Miller to help on Bears defensive end Julius Peppers. Assuming they want their quarterback to survive. He can also fill in as the glue needed to keep this struggling offense together. A sure-handed receiver and an outlet option for QB Ben Roethlisberger, Miller was the team's MVP in 2012 for a reason.
2. Safety dance
Bears QB Jay Cutler looks more poised, comfortable and confident through two games this season than maybe at any other time in his career. New Bears coach Marc Trestman has done a great job getting Cutler to a point where many felt he should have been a long time ago. But in many ways, he's still error-prone. The Steelers will help offset the injury of cornerback Cortez Allen by using four safety packages on passing downs. This will be done to hide their coverage on that play and use Troy Polamalu with the element of surprise. It wouldn't be a surprise for the Steelers to finally get that first turnover tonight.
3. Land of Confusion
The Bears took on the Bengals in Week 1, a defense that didn't employ all that exotic of a defensive plan. The Vikings bring little of much in terms of disguised blitzes and coverage. Still, Chicago has turned the ball over five times total - three on interceptions. The Steelers mix up their blitz packages and coverages very well, something made much harder when dealing with it on the road. Steelers veteran DE Brett Keisel along with OLB Jarvis Jones is going to make things very hard for LT Jermon Bushrod, a player who's allowed six QB pressures in two games.
4. Slow start up front
For the talent the Bears' front four has, it isn't playing well through two games. Both Tennessee and Cincinnati looked stronger along the defensive line in their games against the Steelers in Weeks 1 and 2. While the Bears have a large amount of talent with Peppers and Henry Melton in particular, it doesn't look as strong overall of a line as it has in the past. The Steelers' offensive line is capable of moving this group.
It's a rare instance in which the Steelers will start the same five offensive linemen from the previous game. Some might see the fact all five will be back as a weakness, but the experience this young group can share together will benefit them more with each game. The possible return of running back Le'Veon Bell will only accent the use of their outside zone running scheme. This line has been working in this scheme all offseason, and they will use it on Sunday night.
Listen to "The Standard is The Standard," BTSC's weekly radio show hosted by Neal Coolong and Lance Williams:
The Standard is the Standard - Episode 3
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Bears vs. Steelers: Week 3 gameday news and updates
- 5 questions with Windy City Gridiron
- Fantasy Football: Which Steelers to start/sit in Week 3
- Key matchups: DE Brett Keisel vs. LT Jermon Bushrod
- Bears vs. Steelers Week 3 2013: Game time, TV schedule, online streaming, odds and more
- A deodorized interview* with Ramon Foster