It comes as no surprise to most Steelers fans that the Pittsburgh Steelers have quickly come out of the gates and started off with a modest 2-0 record. After what seemed to be an eternity of an offseason, the Steelers are off to the start that most people in the Steel City predicted.
What really comes as a surprise is how the Steelers have achieved that 2-0 record. Yes, it has come with the juggernaut offense everyone has been ranting and raving about, with which I will give the 3 offensive keys to a Steelers’ week 3 victory in just a moment. After scoring 38 points on Josh Norman’s Washington Redskins in week 1 and scoring 24 points on the division rival Cincinnati Bengals, people have a right to rant and rave about the offensive unit, but it has been the defense that has been a pleasant surprise thus far.
After allowing only 16 points against a fairly talented Redskins offense in week 1, the Steelers defense came back in week 2 and once again let up only 16 points against a very talented Bengals offense. The major downfall of this defense? Let’s all say it together…the secondary.
The Steelers’ secondary let up 329 passing yards to a struggling Kirk Cousins, and 366 passing yards to Andy Dalton. Obviously, this is not good news for a defense that has yet to face two of the top quarterbacks in the league in the likes of Tom Brady and Andrew Luck, but there are positives to take out of these performances.
The red zone defense has been phenomenal. Although the Redskins and Bengals had success with driving down the field, the red zone defense has been stepping up in a very big way, which has allowed our defense to average 16 points allowed over the first two weeks of the season.
Enough about the defense, it is time to talk about the offense.
So, what needs to happen from the offense for the Steelers to keep the win streak alive and start off 3-0 for the first time since 2010? Let’s take a look at 3 offensive keys to a Steelers’ week 3 victory.
- Ben Roethlisberger CANNOT catch a case of the turnover bug
Big Ben Roethlisberger is starting off his 2016 season with some pretty solid numbers. He currently has 559 passing yards, 6 touchdown passes, a 95.5 Passer Rating, and a 62.2 completion percentage. The only downfall of his season so far is his 3 interceptions.
When Roethlisberger is hot, he is hot, but when he gets a bad case of the turnover bug, that is when the entire offense seems to fall apart. Last season was a prime example of how Ben can get himself into trouble when he starts forcing passes, but also how he might be arguably the best quarterback in the entire National Football League when he does not turn the ball over. Ben has proven over the years that he is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, but the one thing that can start separating him from the rest of the pack is if he keeps his turnovers in check.
It will be absolutely crucial on Sunday for Ben to limit the turnovers if he wants to put the Steelers in a solid position to get that 3-0 start to the season. If he can limit himself to a maximum of only one turnover, the Steelers should have no problem walking away with a victory Sunday evening.
2. Antonio Brown needs to bounce back
After a week 1 performance that showed the world why Antonio Brown is one of the top three receivers in the NFL, Brown made very little impact on the stat sheet in week 2 against the Bengals. Brown went for only 39 yards receiving on just 4 receptions and 0 touchdowns.
Although he made very little impact on the stat sheet, Brown was able to take most of the coverage from the Bengals’ defense, which let openings for Big Ben to find the rest of his targets.
In order for the Steelers to get a victory on Sunday, Antonio Brown is going to need to make some noise. It would be hard to imagine the Steelers getting a second straight victory with Antonio Brown going completely unnoticed on the stat sheet. Sure, he may take up all of the coverage yet again and leave openings for the rest of the receiving group, but unfortunately the rest of the group is not completely proven yet, which means Brown is going to need to find some holes in the Eagles defense and make some plays.
3. DeAgelo Williams needs to hit the century mark
DeAngelo Williams has been the story of the NFL so far this season. The 33 year old running back looks like he is about 23 as he has ran for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns on 58 attempts. Along with his rushing numbers he also has 66 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown on 10 receptions.
To help prove the type of workhorse number 34 has been this season, Williams’ longest rush this season is only for 17 yards, which means he has been absolutely pounding opposing defenses for quick hits of 4 to 5 yards a carry, hence his average of 4.1 yards a carry.
What is there to even say about what DeAngelo Williams needs to do this Sunday other than continue to be the workhorse he has been this season? It will most likely be his last start of the season barring another setback with Le’Veon Bell.
Williams needs to be the stud he has been since he first put on that Steelers uniform and the team will have no problem getting that W.
There really is no surprise on what needs to happen with the Steelers’ offense in order for Pittsburgh to get a win on Sunday. They need to play smart football, and everything else should fall into place.
Look for my article, Defensive Keys to a Week 3 Victory, later on in the week.
GZ Sports Report Writer