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Inside the Steelers: Pittsburgh at Jacksonville Preview

“It’s like a nightmare, isn’t it? It just keeps getting worse and worse.”

Such a great quote from The Color of Money, which starred Tom Cruise and Paul Newman back in 1986.

But instead of pertaining to the game of pool, we’re referring to the state of the Pittsburgh Steelers today, which is to say, not good right now.

All to often, the Steelers have been allowing sub par teams to get the best of them. Over the past few seasons, it has come back to haunt them when seeking a spot in the playoffs. Over the past 15 games against sub .500 teams, the Steelers are a laughable 6-9.

To quote Head Coach Mike Tomlin, “It’s unacceptable.”

The latest debacle featured the Steelers blowing a lead and eventually allowing a last second game winning touchdown to the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who in the previous week were slaughtered by the Atlanta Falcons 56-14.

At Heinz Field no less.

The entire coaching staff should be on the hot seat, as they have far too often failed in making proper adjustments to win close games, especially against the dregs of the league.

This week, the Steelers travel to Jacksonville, to face yet another winless team in the Jaguars.

Jacksonville has a great young talent in rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. Ben Roethlisberger has taken noticed of the young QB, being quoted as saying that Bortles reminds him a lot of his younger self.

Problem is, after Bortles, the Jags offense is a hot mess. Running Back Toby Gerhart, signed as a free agent this off-season, hasn’t lived up to expectations, only rushing for 144 yards and one touchdown so far. Receiver’s Cecil Shorts and Marquise Lee are out. The Jags will be forced to rely on a pair of rookies in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and second year pro Ace Sanders, who is returning after a four game suspension for violating NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

The Jags offense ranks 31st in the league, and their defense is dead last at 32nd, allowing 451 yards and 38 points a game.

If the Steelers can’t manage a victory against this team…

The problems plaguing the Steelers are fixable. They are the 5th ranked offense in the league. Ben Roethlisberger, as always, has been the rock of the offense. Antonio Brown is one of the best receivers in the game. He leads the team with 29 receptions for 427 yards and five touchdowns. However, he dropped a wide open flea flicker bomb from Roethlisberger that most likely would’ve put the game away last week. Markus Wheaton has been solid so far in his second season. He’s tied for 3rd on the team with 19 receptions so far. Heath Miller is looking like his old self again with 21 receptions. Problem is, guys like Lance Moore and Justin Brown need to step it up a notch. Brown, in his second year out of Penn State, dropped another touchdown pass last week. It was a difficult catch, but it was a catch that needs to be made if he expects to last in this league.  Le’Veon Bell is being mentioned as one of the top three backs in the game alongside the Cowboy’s DeMarco Murray and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, thanks to his ability to also catch passes out of the backfield. So far this season, Bell has 378 yards rushing and 192 receiving yards.

The defense is currently ranked 15th, but when it comes to needing a clutch play, it feels like they rank dead last. No one is stepping up and making any plays. Managing only seven sacks is hurting the team badly. The lack of pressure on opposing QB’s is alarming. The team has ONE interception on the year to go along with ONE fumble recovery. That’s miserable, especially for a team renown for it’s defense.

Penalties also continue to plague this team. Four games into the season, they are averaging 11 penalties a game, which is 2nd worst in the NFL.

If it isn’t a missed throw by Roethlisberger, a dropped touchdown, a stupid penalty, or a break down on defense, it’s always something that ends up biting the Steelers in the derriere. If these problems aren’t rectified soon, it’ll be another quiet post season in Pittsburgh.

Once again, the Steelers are being handed a chance to get some momentum going against a bottom feeder. As much as everyone is bashing them this, and deservedly so, I cannot fathom them finding a way of dropping this game. Steelers will win 34-14.


Game Information

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

Venue: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL.

Game-time: 1:00 PM


Weather: Sunny with a high temp of 72.


Game Notes

* Overall Regular Season: Jaguars lead 11-10

* Pittsburgh DB coach Carnell Lake played one season (1999)
for the Jaguars and was named to the Pro Bowl.

* Jacksonville LB Paul Posluszny is from Aliquippa, Pa. and played
at Penn State from 2003-06.

* Vegas Line: Steelers -6




Out: CB Dwayne Gratz (concussion), WR Marqise Lee (hamstring), WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring), TE Mickey Shuler (illness)

Probable: DE Andre Branch (hip), DE Ryan Davis (shoulder), DT Roy Miller (ankle), T Austin Pasztor (hand), LB Paul Posluszny (knee), RB Will Ta’ufo’ou (ankle)



Out: LB Ryan Shazier (knee), CB Ike Taylor (forearm)

Probable: WR Martavis Bryant (illness), G Ramon Foster (ankle), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), LB James Harrison (illness), DE Brett Keisel (not injury related), TE Heath Miller (not injury related), S Michael Mitchell (not injury related), S Troy Polamalu (not injury related), QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related), WR Markus Wheaton (groin)



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Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

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