TOJ – New York Jets Know Your Opponent (Pittsburgh Steelers)

TOJ Staff Writer Dalbin Osorio breaks down the New York Jets Week 6 opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The New York Jets return home after a stunning road win against the defending NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons. Thanks to Geno Smith’s third game winning drive of the season, the Jets went into Atlanta and beat Matt Ryan and his fantasy football offense. Standing at 3-2, the Jets have begun to turn some heads behind a potent defensive line, a rejuvenated offensive line, and a poised rookie QB. On Week 6, they welcome the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Let’s get to know the opponent for Week 6.

Week 6: Pittsburgh Steelers, 0-4 last week: BYE (last played in London, a loss vs Minnesota 34-27)

2013 Offensive Rankings: 29th in Points Per game (17.2), 19th in total yards (341.2 per game), 9th in passing yards (283.2 per game), 6th in passing attempts (40.5 per game), 22nd in passing touchdowns (5), 23rd in interceptions thrown (5), 16th in yards gained per attempt (6.4), 32nd in rushing yards (58 per game), 32nd in rushing attempts (18.25 per game), 21st in rushing touchdowns (2), 28th in yards per carry (3.2), 12 of their 48 drives have ended with a score (27.1%), 10 of their 48 drives have ended in a turnover (22%), average 5.3 plays and two minutes and 24 seconds per drive.

Overview: Offensively, the Steelers are statistically the worst team the Jets have faced this season. Against two of the better defenses in the league (Cincinnati and Tennessee), the Steelers were held to under 280 yards of total offense, and their running game was held to under 45 yards in both matchups. Against two average defenses (Chicago and Minnesota), the Steelers went over 450 yards of total offense, and they notched 75+ rushing yards and 300+ passing yards. The Steelers offense begins and ends with former Super Bowl MVP Ben Roethlisberger, who is completing 63.6% of their passes, and has thrown for 1231 yards and 5 TDs. Ben has thrown 5 interceptions, and the offense has turned it over 11 times so far this year.

Felix Jones is the team’s leading rusher, with 74 yards on 19 carries. However, rookie Le’Veon Bell returned last week from a preseason Lisfranc injury (an injury similar to the one that sidelined New York Jets WR Santonio Holmes) and scored two touchdowns as the Steelers lead back. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and former New York Jet Jerricho Cotchery are Ben’s weapons in the passing game. Brown leads the Steelers with 32 catches for 412 yards and 2 touchdowns; his 32 catches have him ranked 11th in the league, and Brown is on pace for 128 catches and 1,648 yards. Emmanuel Sanders is second on the team in catches with 20 and he has 231 yards. Cotchery has 15 catches, but is averaging 16.8 yards a catch. Heath Miller has returned from injury and is coming off a 6 catch, 70 yard performance. The offensive line has allowed Ben to be sacked 15 times, which is tied for the 5th most in the league.

Key Additions

Running Back Le’Veon Bell
Offensive Tackle Levi Brown
Wide Receiver Markus Wheaton

Key Subtractions

Wide Receiver Mike Wallace
Offensive Guard Willie Colon

Key Injuries

Wide Receiver Plaxico Burress
Center Maurkice Pouncey
Wide Receiver Markus Wheaton

2013 Defensive Rankings: 24th in points allowed (27.5 per game), 10th in yards allowed (321 per game), 9th in passing defense (199 per game), 6th in passing touchdowns allowed (4), 25th in rushing defense (122.75 per game), 12th in yards per carry allowed (3.8), 31st in rushing touchdowns allowed (6), and 32nd in turnovers forced (0).

Overview: The Steelers defense, a strength of this team for years, has now become a weakness as they have begun transitioning from a very old defense to one of the younger units in the league. 27 year old Lawrence Timmons leads the team in tackles with 21, but no other front 7 player is in the top 5 as the leading tacklers are in the secondary (never a good sign). The defense has only 4 sacks on the year, 3 by Woodley. Jarvis Jones, Cameron Hayward, and Shamarko Thomas are the future of this once talented defense, but it is nowhere near what the Steelers defenses used to be. Troy Polamalu, once considered to be the best safety in the game, has 14 tackles but only one pass defensed and no impact plays. The silver lining is that their pass defense, as a unit, has been a top 10 unit.

Key Additions

Linebacker Jarvis Jones
Safety Shamarko Thomas

Key Subtractions

Linebacker James Harrison

Key Injuries

Linebacker Larry Foote

Special Teams

Felix Jones is the team’s primary kick returner, averaging 24.3 yards per return (good for 11th in the league). Antonio Brown pulls double duty as the team’s punt returner, and he is ranked 15th in the league (behind the New York Jets Jeremy Kerley) with a 7.5 yards a return. Punter Zoltan Mesko is averaging 41.9 yards per punt, which ranks him 31st in the league. Kicker Shaun Suisham is 6 for 6 on field goals and 7 of 7 on extra points.

Series History

The Steelers lead the all-time series 18-4, and beat the Jets in the 2010 AFC Title Game. Rex Ryan is 1-2 against Mike Tomlin.

Series Highlight 

Author: Dalbin Osorio

Dalbin Osorio is a Case Planner for Graham-Windham, New York's oldest child welfare agency. He is, also, a student at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Dalbin graduated from Monroe College with a degree in Business Administration. A 3 sport utility man in high school (think a mix of Jerome WIlliams, Brad Smith, and Jayson Nix), he joined TOJ in 2013.