Friday, October 11, 2013

It's a Mess: Steelers at Jets Preview

Before the season started, I had this game penciled in as a win.  The Jets were in shambles, they were starting a rookie at quarterback, Mark Sanchez was a huge distraction, and Rex Ryan looked like he was trying to get fired.  As things stand now, I have a feeling that the New York Jets are looking at the Steelers and thinking, "Man, that team has some serious issues."

The defense can't tackle or make any big plays, the offensive line is in disarray, they just traded for a left tackle that the Arizona Cardinals were willing to pay $3 million to get rid of, there's some kind of issue with ping pong that I don't quite understand, the offensive coordinator is a colossal douche, they're 0-4, and Ryan Clark and Ben Roethlisberger have a mini-feud going.  All that I honestly feel as though I'm forgetting something.

I had hoped that the bye week would give them a chance to sort a few things out and get a little bit more stable on all fronts, but the opposite seems to have happened.  They appear to have gone further off the rails and I'm not sure how much further they're going to get off course.  I would say that I don't think it's possible for things to get worse, but I thought that heading into the bye week... and they got worse.

I think that the defense will play better than they've shown the past two games.  I think that they'll eventually register a sack and force a turnover.  I think they won't give up a kajillion yards rushing and 34 points against New York.

I think that the offensive line will be in better shape with Mike Adams out of there and Kelvin Beacham  or Levi Brown in.  I think the receivers will continue to improve and mature and that the pass offense has the potential to be pretty explosive by the end of the season.

But, this is still a flawed team that has major talent holes at a number of positions.  Demoting Ziggy Hood and Mike Adams sends a message and their replacements will be better, but it's doubtful that they'll be considerably better, or at least good enough that right end and left tackle won't be areas of weakness. Getting Le'Veon Bell and Heath back will help boost the offense and give Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley more options.

The issue is that all of these things are like having a kid to save a bad marriage: The dynamic changes, but the old problems are still there.  In order to salvage the season and take big steps forward, they need to fundamentally change how they approach things.

They need to max protect more, take more shots down the field, and run more when they get into the red zone.  They need to blitz more, play more man coverage, and take more chances on defense.  They had been playing it safe thus far, only going all out -- at least on offense -- when they felt they had no other choice.  They assumed that they had the talent and football savvy to win enough games to at least be competitive, but they overestimated the talent on hand by a lot and weren't anywhere near as savvy as they thought.

They're a quarter of the way through the season and doing things the same way they've always done them isn't working.  They need to step outside their comfort zone, take some chances, and basically go big or go home.  I have no idea if they'll succeed or not if they take that chance, but they haven't won any games playing it safe, so it's worth a shot.

Sure, the Jets have a rookie quarterback, a ton of injuries on offense, and they traded their best defensive player in the offseason.  They're also 3-2, they're at home, they know who they are, and they know how to get where they want to go.  They may be a mess, but they're not as big a mess as the Steelers right now.

Jets 17, Steelers 16

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