December 13, 2007

David Garrard Has Great Protection...

"David Garrard at quarterback is playing extremely well for them...He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s mobile. We’ll have our hands full in regards of containing him."
- Mike Tomlin
Hopefully you're still with me and haven't clicked away from the page disgusted...Everybody still there? Ok.

We've got the Jagoffuars coming into da Burgh this weekend, and after last week's debacle, memories of the last two times we've played the Jags, and the news that we've lost Aaron Smith for the season, it's tough to be very confident about how the Steelers will fare. But I'll do my best.

Jacksonville, as we all know, plays a similar game to our Steelers. They like to run the football and play tough, physical defense. In fact, they're physical in just about every aspect of their game.

Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are two backs that can punch you in the face just as quickly as they can dance around you. David Garrard is a 6'2", 240 pound mobile and efficient Quarterback who operates behind a pretty capable Offensive Line (see headline). And their Wide Receiving corps consists of the 6'4, 214 pound Reggie Williams who is clearly the biggest scoring threat of the bunch (and torched us last time for a good 95 yards), the 6'4", 223 pound Ernest Wilford who pretty much doesn't count except for the fact that he's a big dude, and the 6'6", 238 pound Matt "Big Red" Jones who also took it to the Steelers the last time we met (6 catches for 73 yards).

On Defense, take your pick. Although Jacksonville will be without starting DT Marcus Stroud (IR) and DE Reggie Hayward, two of it's top lineman, they've gotten a lot bigger play this season from guys like DE Paul Spicer, the team's sack leader with 6.5, and backup DTs Grady Jackson and Rob Meier. Plus, they've still got Rashean Mathis, the man who you all may remember iced the victory for them in our 2005 meeting (when Tommy Maddox tossed him the game, literally). And also they now have Sammy Knight at Strong Safety, who is leading the team in tackles with 70, despite pushing 70 in the age department (ok he's only 32 but still).

So yeah, this ain't exactly gonna be Tea and Crumpets out there. But after last week, my only hope is that the embarrassment in Foxborough has left the Steelers ANGRY and HUNGRY for a win. Hopefully this week we can try HITTING people instead of throwing our bodies around as if tackling meant falling all over ourselves while watching the guy with the ball run by us.

Now that we've gotten the poetry and prose out of the way, you might be asking - How do the Steelers and Jagoffsguars match up on paper? Well in keeping my Thursday routine consistent, I'll tell you. Read on, then we'll talk more:

OFFENSE:
Rushing Yards ~ Jax = 1870 (#2) | Pit = 1841 (#3)
Passing Yards ~ Jax = 2743 (#21) | Pit = 2765 (#20)
Total Yards ~ Jax = 4613 (#12) | Pit = 4606 (#13)
Points Scored ~ Jax = 305 (#10) | Pit = 309 (#8)

DEFENSE:
Rushing Yards (Allowed) ~ Jax = 1210 (#5) | Pit = 944 (#2)
Passing Yards (Allowed) ~ Jax = 3261 (#28) | Pit = 2464 (#3)
Total Yards (Allowed) ~ Jax = 4471 (#19) | Pit = 3408 (#1)
Points Against ~ Jax = 229 (#7) | Pit = 189 (#1)

So clearly our agenda this Sunday will be STOP THE RUN and PASS EFFECTIVELY. While this sounds all well and good, chances are it won't be that easy.

Even if we do stop the run, Garrard and this Offense we're facing is the dink and dunk kind of passing game that has been obliterating the Steelers all season (See Denver, Jets, New England). What's more, not only do they manage the game well with short throws and the run, but David Garrard has only thrown ONE interception on the entire YEAR! Now granted he missed three games in there. But the only other QB in the league that can come close to that is Jeff Garcia (who has also been injured) who has three picks. Of course the other side of that coin is that Garrard only has 13 passing TDs. So it looks like we've come full circle back to our original objective - Yep, STOP THE RUN. That will be the barometer for success on Defense against this beast.

On Offense, the objective is clearly to establish a passing game. The Jags are 28th against it (thought this could on a normal year easily be chalked up to the fact that they play the Colts twice). Most likely this will mean something similar to what we were forced into on Monday night against the Dolphins. However of equal importance is short yardage running. We can't completely avoid the run (unlike some recent opponents), nor should we. Willie Parker never got a rhythm going the last time we saw these guys. But with that depleted Defensive line of theirs, hopefully he will have a little more success this time around and at least crack 25 yards...yeah, you heard me.

Anyways, this will be a BATTLE. And I mean that in a greater sense than the last game against the Cheatriots. I mean this will be THE test of the year. Will the Steelers bring their balls this week? I sure hope so.

What do you guys think? Where can we gain the competitive edge? Do you think our front 7 can withstand that punishing running game? Will all 5'10" of DeShea Townsend be able to handle the Jags freakishly large receivers? Am I a complete screw up for photoshopping David Garrard's head on a Trojans package? What does that even have to do with this post?

Oh yeah, and the Jags also have cheerleaders, can't forget that:


REFERENCE MATERIAL:
Jacksonville 2007 Stats [Pro-Football-Reference]
Jacksonville 2007 Stats [ESPN]
Jags To See Steelers New Roethlisberger [Tribune-Review]
Jaguars Adjust Defensive Line [Tribune-Review]
Jags Benefit From Preseason QB Change [Tribune-Review]
Taylor Makes Late Push for Pro Bowl [FloridaToday]
Jaguars Cornerback Mathis Gets Some Rest [Orlando Sentinel]

Ballhype: hype it up!

1 comment:

Tobiathan said...

Tobiathan is still alive. I wa busy pouting all week. Please forgive my hiatus. I am the better man for it though...

I am now officially begining my campaign to put Max Starks on the defensive line. He has strength, more than fair agility, and incredible size for any position on the defensive line.

At 6 feet 8 inches the guy could even probably block kicks from the middle of the line. and i seem to remember that he played defense in colege.

At least try him in the rotation. A guy his size at DE would shut down the passing lanes to the flats completely on his side. And as an O-lineman he knows how to beat the assignments.

I'm serious on this. I'd like t hear some feedback...

And i think we will totally dominate the Jags after the embarrasment of last week. Anthony Smith needs to sit a week or two. If Troy is back let Tyrone play FS. Smith needs to think about himself a little.