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Steelers Film Room Preview: Offensively, attack the Colts linebackers

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How should the Steelers attack the Colts defense? Start with their linebackers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A short week it is indeed and one that will undoubtedly challenge the Steelers, no matter who the opponent is, especially on the road.

The only thing that can stop the Steelers offense from dissecting this Colts defense is themselves. The Colts are not a good defensive team on paper, and if the Steelers are aiming to make a statement that they’re ready to put their road woes behind them, they need to destroy this defense.

Let’s take a look at just where the Colts defense has been vulnerable all year.

Can’t stop the pass or the run

Before looking it up, I did not think that the Colts were going to be ranked as poorly as they are on defense but it turns out I was wrong. The Colts have been unable to stop the pass or the run so far this season as they are ranked 32nd in the pass defense and 24th in run defense.

A big thing I noticed about the Colts is they lack speed at the linebacker position, they’re definitely one of the more athletically challenged LB’s from the teams that I have seen this year.

What do you do when your opposition lacks athletic ability at the LB position? You get your quick pass catching RB matched up on them and take advantage of that matchup.

Theo Riddick, just like Le’Veon Bell, is an excellent pass catcher who is great at exposing LB’s in space with his excellent cutting ability and route running. Theo is able to create a ton of space against an athletically challenged Josh McNary, making an excellent cut and taking advantage of McNary’s opened hips.

These kind of matchups are what the Steelers should look to exploit when they get the chance as Le’Veon Bell feasts when he’s put into these situations. Bell is an absolute matchup nightmare and he no doubt could have a big game if the Colts somehow leave a LB on him.

The LB’s are not just vulnerable being matched up one on one with a RB though as I often saw teams attacking the Colts over the middle in the passing game, going right at the LB’s.

Even against TE’s such as Zach Miller and CJ Fiedorowicz (not exactly the most athletic bunch), the Colts struggled to stop them over the middle. I don’t know what it was but the Colts just seem to struggle vs tight ends. The Colts have given up the third most yards to tight ends this season which no doubt has something to do with their linebackers.

These linebackers are not the only area that has struggled on their defense as the Colts like I said are not good defending the run and a lot of it is the Colts not having the personnel to stop the run in the nickel

Where is the push? The Colts two interior linemen get taken out of the play, the edge rushers lose contain and create a large hole and allow the right guard to take the interior LB out of the play, giving Lamar Miller nothing but green grass.

The Colts didn’t give up a ton of game breaking runs but they gave up some big 10 yard and even 20 yard gains pretty consistently.

Conclusion

The Steelers on paper have the personnel and the QB to absolutely torch this defense. They could use a balance attack of passing and running if they so choose but I say attack what works.

If you can set up play action, hitting the tight end (no matter if It’s James or Green) down the seam shouldn’t be difficult at all. The Colts linebackers struggle in coverage and have been exposed greatly in the games they lost. Detroit took advantage of those linebackers consistently with Theo Riddick and Pittsburgh can do the same with Le’Veon Bell.

The Steelers have multiple ways they can attack and I haven’t even discussed Antonio Brown who will most likely be matched up on Vontae Davis, who has been injured as of late and can definitely be taken advantage of.

No matter how they do it, attack what works, don’t back away.

Thanksgiving hasn’t been kind to the Steelers throughout history, but history can definitely be rewritten with a win on Thursday.