The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense has been the only part of the team that hasn’t taken that much heat during this winless season. That was until the Minnesota Vikings carved them up. The defense displayed their worst performance all season long in that loss.
The Steelers are coming off a bye week and will take on the New York Jets in week 6. The Jets will be coming into the matchup against the Steelers on a short week, coming off a dramatic victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.
The Jets who are always a whirlwind of questions are led by their rookie quarterback Geno Smith out of West Virginia University. After a quarterback shuffle during the offseason and an injury to last year’s quarterback Mark Sanchez, Smith was given the task of managing the Jets’ offense. Smith hasn’t been spectacular thus far but has shown some signs of being a quality, rookie quarterback including a great performance on Monday Night Football.
Smith led the Jets to a dominant first half performance but after the Falcons chipped away and regained the lead a comeback situation rested on Smith’s shoulders. Smith rose to the occasion and led the Jets on a game-winning drive where they kicked a field goal to seal the deal with just :03 remaining.
No doubt Smith showed a lot of poise and confidence in the Jets’ recent victory. However, this is the first time Smith will face the Steel Curtain. The Steelers defense has got to be looking forward to playing against a rookie quarterback and a Jets offense that hasn’t been fully established in quite some time. I believe the Steelers’ defense will have a big day against the former Mountaineer. The Jets lack a running game and the Steelers have been solid when it comes to stopping the rushing attack. If there’s no ground game for the Jets, the game will be placed in the hands of Smith.
With the game in the hands of Smith the Steelers defense should thrive on the rookie quarterback despite his recent game-winning-effort. Smith has been known to turn the ball over on several occasion this season and that has made him look like the rookie quarterback that he is.
The Steelers’ defense has yet to get takeaway this season but I’m confident that’ll change against the Jets. Smith will have a tough time with the Steelers defense; I expect Dick LeBeau to dial up heavy pressure with LaMarr Woodley leading the charge. The pass rush should keep Smith flustered the entire game. A flustered, rookie quarterback is bound to make a mistake and the Steelers’ secondary, filled with veterans such as Ryan Clark, Ike Taylor and always dangerous Troy Polamalu, will be there to capitalize on them.
The one advantage Smith might have over the Steelers is his ability to use his legs as a weapon. The Steelers’ defense hasn’t been particularly good at containing opposing quarterbacks from scrambling around to gain some rushing yards. If Smith is able to escape pressure and rack up rushing yards then the Steelers will have their hands full. Although Smith is more than capable of using his legs, the young quarterback is definitely looking to establish himself as a pocket passer. He was that way at WVU and it’s evident he’s looking to be that kind of quarterback in the NFL too. If the Steelers can keep Smith in the pocket then they’re sure to make his day a long one.
The Steelers are still searching for their first win of the season and a big day for the defense, equipped with some turnovers could finally elevate this struggling team to a victory.
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