Although the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season, it was not due to their defense. The Bengals were the third leading offense in the NFL, and are still ranked in the top five for scoring in the league. Holding their offense to 16 points despite Ben Roethlisberger throwing three interceptions during the game was a huge feat for the Steelers defense.
The one player who was still effective for the Bengals was A.J. Green, who caught eleven catches for 118 yards and the touchdown that would give the Bengals the final lead.
So this week, we want to take a look at what the Steelers will want to do to limit A.J. Green's production.
Our first two looks are at the Steelers' previous matchup with the Bengals in 2015. Here, Ross Cockrell lines up tight with Green and immediately applies a jam to take away any inside route for Green and disrupt his tempo going for this fade route. Dalton would have to make the perfect throw in this situation and Green would have to make just as difficult of a catch in solid coverage. The Steelers need to get in the face of Green and take away whatever timing he has with Dalton.
Here, Green got off the line free and scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Bengals. Notice how in the previous GIF Cockrell took away the inside, and here he did not. Green got to the inside for an easier completion and touchdown for Dalton.
The Arizona Cardinals often pressed Green to force tighter passing windows and make him fight for every timing play he has with Dalton. Here, they chose not to do that and gave up a big play to Green.
Ultimately, the Steelers cannot be afraid of Green and live in their fears of how they have some of the least reputable defensive backfield players. Both teams have come a long way since their earlier matchup, and Pittsburgh's on a mission to make the playoffs.
The Steelers hopefully are looking at Green's skills and preparing to engage him early and often in his routes throughout the game. While the Bengals have multiple weaons, they still go through A.J. Green as a primary threat. Pittsburgh must take the fight to Green and make him have to play the perfect game to put up great numbers.