2016 Season Blog.

Pat Vs Pitt.

7-Things for Sunday: Part II.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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Gronk Want Revenge!


5. Offensive Explosion!- The biggest problem that the Steelers face is that with Laundry at QB, the Pats can use more assets against the Run game. "I think their running back position with both Bell and Williams is really a very difficult tandem to handle," Patricia said. "Bell is a very multiple player. He's extremely good in all down-and-distance situations. Very athletic, very quick in space, shifty, has real good moves to kind of get away from defenders whether it's guys trying to tackle him or guys trying to cover him. It's really the same situation. You can just see him out in space; he's a very good space player. As far as the run game, he is extremely patient with the reads." A large part of their run game is Roethlisberger's ability to throw the ball all over the field.

But if you let their O-line get on a roll, they can roll over you with power and coordination. "They do a real good job up front of covering guys up," Patricia said. "They're extremely large from an offensive line standpoint. Big, long, tall guys that really just cover up defenders and they allow Bell and Williams to be able to sit back there and find some space. You know, hit it through the hole or bounce out outside and get really good yardage by the time the defenders get a chance to get off the blocks and find him. They've gained some substantial yardage there." The Steelers can overuse Bell early to get things going, because they then have the ability to switch it over to DeAngelo, who can pound it out for a quarter or two if given a chance.

They can also allow Laundry to kill the Pats D by dumping it off to either RB. "Both of them I think are running extremely well right now in their offense, but like you said with Bell and Williams, both of them will catch the ball," Patricia said. "Bell they'll put out there a little bit more as a receiver type and actually split him out of the formation and try to design the plays a little bit more to get him the ball when he's out there in space. But Williams does a great job when he gets the ball whether it's the shorter passing game or they have a designed route to get him the ball in the passing game." So a big key to the game is not just stopping the run, but not letting Laundry pad his stats by dumping it off to either RB.

Because you do not want either one of these guys out in space, with most of the defenders moving backwards in coverage. "Both of them are extremely hard to tackle," Patricia said. "They're both very quick; short space quickness and [they] have good speed. If they can get the ball out in space and put a defender in a one-on-one tackling situation, it usually turns out pretty well for them. I think that's what they're trying to do with them when they're in the passing game but like I said, the combination of the running game and the way those guys are running right now with the blocking of the offensive line, it's really, really difficult to kind of handle both of the scenarios." That is how they win the game.

If they get those guys going than Laundry can take advantage of the play action. "But they do a good job of stretching the field horizontally and vertically," Hightower said. "They've got Le'Veon, DeAngelo Williams, all those quick guys on the catch-and-runs. Then they have Sammie Coates, Antonio Brown, all those guys stretching the field. We've just got to know what's going on, look at the film and just getting the play in the playbook." Old school football, pound the rock and then throw over the top. One thing that Laundry can do is throw over the top.

Plus, the Pats have to stop them on 3rd down. "Absolutely," Hightower said. "Again, one of the biggest things we want to do on defense is to try to get off the field on third down. To be able to give the offense, Tom [Brady], give those guys the ball. We do really good on first and second downs and then third downs have been a little bit of trouble for us. We've worked on it really hard this week. We'll have another shot at it today so hopefully we'll be able to get that corrected before the end of the season." In a lot of ways this teams in winning against what we know historically about football.

If you can't stop them on 3rd down than you can't win, at least that is what we thought. "That'll definitely help. But again, turnovers are one thing, but third down is third down," Hightower said. "That's something that's going to come up unless you're forcing turnovers first and second down, which if it was that easy, I think everybody would do it. Ultimately, it's going to have to come down to us winning on third down as well. We're going to have to win on third down. We're going to have to win in the red area. Those are key components to winning a game. Those are the things we're going to have to tighten up on." If the Pats get turnovers (and back up QBs give up TOs), and stop them on 3rd down, they can blow them out of the 2nd half.

The Problem is that their run game consistently gets them in 3rd and shorts. "I think DeAngelo Williams is a great back, one of the best backs in the league," Hightower said. "He's been [overshadowed] a lot in his career, but he does a lot of great things with the ball in his hands. He does a lot of great things for Pittsburgh. With Le'Veon Bell, it's just a different way of how they get him the ball. But with DeAngelo with the ball in his hands is just as dangerous." So they have to stop the run first.

Because Bell can kill you all over the field. "Absolutely," Hightower said. "You can just turn on the film and see where he's at. The guy plays running back, he plays receiver, they line him up everywhere, they motion him. He's not a one-trick pony. He has an extended route tree. They do a good job of being able to get him the ball whether it's screens, out of the backfield or passes. We've have to do a good job of just knowing where he's at all times." Then you just have to stop Antonio Brown on passing downs. See, simple (now I'm starting to get ah-scared).

6. Defensive Explosion- Like most defenses it starts with the veterans. "They have a good mixture of experience and then they have some younger guys that are very talented that are fitting in really well with their defense and the scheme that they've used for a long time," McDaniels said. "Timmons has got a lot of experience, very versatile, has played in this system for upwards of 10 years now, and a good blitzer, good cover guy, gets them into the right set." He is the guy that gets the defense set up, like Hightower.

They still have some impact defenders who are playing this weekend. "They have some different things that they do based on the formation that he and the other linebackers are responsible for," McDaniels said. "Moats is a guy with a high motor. He's got good quickness and speed. They all play physical, the whole defense is physical. It has been for many years. Every time we play them, it's the same group. They're going to make everything tough. They're going to challenge your ability to pick up the blitz. They're difficult, stingy against the run. They tackle well; they don't give up a lot of big plays." But it will be harder for them this week without Shazier and Heyward.

They have a frightfully young secondary, but still have some veteran leadership. "You mentioned Gay, also. Obviously, a tenured guy, played in the system a long time, understands their defensive scheme," McDaniels said. "He has really done a nice job over many years of fitting in to what they ask their corners to do: good tackler, baits the quarterback in some of their pressures, has created some takeaways and turnovers; gets his hands on the football in the secondary. This is, again, a really good group. It's always challenging to go there and play. One, because they're well-coached. They've got good players. They've got a good defense. It's a great atmosphere to play in and we're looking forward to really getting familiar with all these guys as we get going here tomorrow with the players." But their secondary doesn't scare me.

If both Heyward (who didn't participate in practice) and Shazier (who was limited in practice) don't play than the Pats offense can wear them down, and drop 30 on them. "There's no question that Hayward and Ryan [Shazier] are very good players," McDaniels said. "They've got a lot of guys we're going to have to keep track of. They have guys at all three levels of the defense that have been disruptive. Hayward is certainly one of their better players as a guy that's been consistent both in playing the run and getting after the quarterback. He understands their scheme, he plays it very well." Heyward is the heart and soul of their D-line.

Shazier is the speed in the middle of their defense. "Shazier has got great speed, he's very long, he gets his hands on balls in coverage," McDaniels said. "He's a very difficult guy to handle in blitz pickup because of his quickness and his speed. He's also powerful and he'll strike you, so those two guys, we're going to prepare hard for them. If they play, they play, but we're going to assume that they will." Their defense has just not fared well without them. They had 7 total sacks in back to back games, and only 1 in all the rest.

7. Pats Win- The Pats start this game off slow. It will be a morose 1st quarter as both teams try to figure each other out. The key to this game is getting a handle on Antonio Brown. He presents a unique challenge for this defense. They can play him with Butler, and bracket him over the top with Harmon, or go back to the Ryan-McCourty bracket. Because Coates is not 100%, and Markus Wheaten is out.

I mean, the real story of this game is that the Steelers are just too hobbled to stay with the Pats for four quarters. Sure the Steelers can hurt the Pats defense, and wear them down with guts shots in the run game. Which they are almost forced to do. But with Gronk coming home to Pittsburgh, and Brady ready to go, if they drop less than 30 on Pitt it will be a massive upset.

The offense is hobbled radically by the lost of Roethlisberger, but the defense is just as hamstrung with injuries. One of those units has to give out. If both give out the Pats could get up 30 in the 2nd half. The Steelers really have to play a flawless game to stay in this one. With their youth in the second and injured veterans, that is a 100 to 1 shot.

Playing at Home helps. "I think Coach said it the best this morning, if you love football, if you love competition, there's going to be no better place to be Sunday than Pittsburgh," McCourty said. "Obviously a very good football team, very tough at home, an environment who loves Pittsburgh Steelers. You probably won't find many Patriots fans in there Sunday so it'll be a good environment. It'll be a huge challenge for us going on the road against this type of team. We look forward to it though. That's what makes you a good football team. You learn how to go play in those environments." Their secondary can double Brown to death.

Of course Gronk is sort of coming back to play at Home, he tried to be from Pittsburgh, and killed the Steelers the last time he played here. "I've played in Pittsburgh a few times now," Gronk said then tried to play it down. "I mean, I'm not really trying to look back and focus on the game that was six or seven years ago, my rookie year. It's a whole different ballgame now. It's a different team. It's a different team for us, it's a different team for them. We've just got to really focus on the Steelers of this year." Some called his game in Pittsburgh in 2010 his break out game, where he only had 5 catches for 72-yards. Oh yeah, and 3 touchdowns.

So, huh, Beavis? Huh, Gronk wants to go back to the town that threw him out of Pennsylvania football, for a comment his father made (which is just so wrong to punish a kid for what his dad innocently said you have read this to believe it), and get some revenge. "The atmosphere is just a football atmosphere," Gronk said. "You've got great high school football there. You've got great college football there, you've got great NFL football there. It's just a football atmosphere. They love their Steelers, they love going to the games, and it's going to be a great atmosphere to come around Sunday." Gronk want Revenge. I just can't pretend to be ah-scared anymore.

Plus, we have Tom Brady. "I feel like Tom [Brady] has prepared hard, been very consistent with the way he's approached his individual preparation and the way that he's approached our game plan," McDaniels said. "He's worked hard in practice both weeks here and has continued to try to improve in different areas of his game, and also work with some of our players on different elements of our offense that we're trying to get better at and mesh during the course of these weeks that we've had him. It's just been a consistent approach.

"I think he's stayed within himself. He's played within the game plan. He's really tried to execute what we've asked him to do: read the defense, throw the ball to the open guy. It doesn't matter which person that is. Our guys are all capable of doing things with the ball, and he's tried to distribute it correctly. He's done a nice job in the running game of managing his reasonability there as well. So just a consistent approach for him, trying to execute his job which is really what we ask all of our players to do. Hopefully we can take another step forward this week, continue to improve in practice, and use the three days that we have this week to be even better." Once they make the Halftime adjustments this game is done.

Gronk want revenge. Brady is back. And, the Steelers are currently 30th in the League in pass defense. See-ya! Wouldn't want to be ya!

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