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'A' Game Needed for Pittsburgh's D

Studying the Steelers' defense will occupy a lot of the Redskins' time this week. Pittsburgh is ranked first in the NFL, is brutish against the run seemingly by nature, and is also leading the league in sacks.

It's a lot for any team to handle, and the Redskins will need an "A" game from the offensive line, backs and tight ends to keep quarterback Jason Campbell upright. Left tackle Chris Samuels was back for practice Wednesday, but his right knee is not 100 percent and he be playing with some discomfort because of a lingering cartilage issue. Right tackle Jon Jansen has not been as stout in pass protection in recent years and lost his job in the preseason for that reason.

The Steelers employ a lot of deception and trickery in their pass rush, and the Redskins have a savvy veteran line. Those guys study hard and communicate well on the field, which is imperative when working on combination blocks and in deciphering who is going where when the Steelers stunt. Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme is predicated on getting its explosive linebackers in mismatches with less athletic players, attacking on the edges. They also do not shy away from getting defensive backs involved in the blitz, with Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu among those who are adept at attacking the quarterback (former Redskins safety Ryan Clark, who dislocated his shoulder Sunday, ranks second on the team with 54 tackles).

The Steelers will overload the line of scrimmage against the run game, and also tend to run blitz, deploying multiple rushers on running downs. The Redskins can gash them if they hit a big outside zone rushing play to the opposite side from where the blitz is coming, but if the Steelers guess right, then the potential is there for them to cause a huge hit or turnover. And even if Campbell catches them in play action, the Steelers can adjust their tactics midplay.

"They'll blitz on what's considered run downs," guard Pete Kendall said, "and if you happen to be in play action, they just convert it into a pass rush and away they go. It's another way of disrupting, but also maintaining a hat on a gap."

The linebackers make the Pittsburgh defense different from a lot of 3-4s, however. The teams that play in the Bill Parcells 3-4 mold (like Cleveland, Dallas, even New England) tend to have bigger linebackers, whereas Pittsburgh and Baltimore are built more for speed off the edges (think: LaMarr Woodley, Harrison Suggs).

"Their linebackers are quick," Campbell said. "They can really move around, they're very fast. That's how come [the linebackers] have 16 sacks of the 25 [total sacks], because they are so fast. They can rush on those outside edges and they're able to use their quickness to their advantage. That's the biggest difference. They're not so big, just really quick."

Unlike some other overly-aggressive defenses, like the Eagles, Pittsburgh gets it done with just three down lineman. It requires a lot of discipline. "Everyone knows exactly what gap to hit, and everyone knows exactly what hole they're supposed to fill," Campbell said.

Pittsburgh's defense is more dangerous now in the interior with the return of defensive tackle Casey Hampton from injury; he is the wide-bodied specimen that can line up over center, take on double teams and free up the linebackers to assault the ballcarrier. It will be another difficult 3-4 match-up for center Casey Rabach (this one will take him back to his days as part of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry). He's already had to knock heads with some of the best nose tackles in the NFL this season, guys like Shaun Rogers, Darnell Dockett, Jay Ratliff (there are a lot of 3-4 teams on the schedule this year, it seems).

The three down linemen do the grunt work, and the linebackers reap the rewards. Two Pittsburgh linebackers have at least 7½ sacks (the Steelers have only played seven games), with Woodley and James Harrison playing at a Pro Bowl level. It's going to make for an interesting game.

"Communication is going to be very important, and recognition is going to be very important," Kendall said. "This is a very aggressive defense, and it looks like they take a lot of chances, but they're very disciplined, too. When you slow it down and look at it, very rarely do you see two guys in the same gap. They still have their gap integrity "

By Jason La Canfora  |  October 30, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
 
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Next: An Unrestricted Look at Injuries

Comments

Uh, First?

Posted by: 44riggosranger44 | October 30, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

He makes it sound so daunting.

F-Blitzburg

Posted by: Devo2 | October 30, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Who's going to the game?

Posted by: joeblazin | October 30, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

LAST!

Kendall brings up a good point about how important communication is going to be. Lets hope all the retards in the stands who like to yell while the offense is on the field will decide not to show up.

Posted by: REDneckSKINhead | October 30, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like it should be a slobberknocker

Posted by: JinxMan | October 30, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Will be in club level

Posted by: RambleOn | October 30, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Well if we had Marcus Mason none of this would matter. He can carry seven LB's on his back at once.

Sorry someone had to say it...

Posted by: Gweez | October 30, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm going...sadly with a Pittsburgh fan.

Posted by: 44riggosranger44 | October 30, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Deep down, I think the Redskins are going to be able to run on this team. I think that Buges gets this line in a lather, has them feeling disrespected, and they come out and steamroll this team...

Posted by: BeantownGreg | October 30, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Waiting for the tinfoil hats by larry Michael, to say that JLC is hyping Pitzburgh, and that the quote JC gave shows LaCa's bias.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 30, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Skins need to stick with the run like the Giants did. They probably won't get much in the 1st half, but it looked like the Giants wore them down in the 2nd half, got them to cheat up and then made plays down the field. Here's hoping Sellers has a big day against those smaller LB's.

Posted by: Yoder-lay-hee-who | October 30, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Quick hits

Safety Ryan Clark revealed that he was fined $5,000 by the NFL for wearing eye black with the No. 21 etched into it Sunday. Clark said he did it to honor his late Redskins teammate Sean Taylor, who was murdered in his Florida home last year. Clark, who wears No. 25, wears a No. 21 practice jersey in honor of Taylor. Clark said he will continue to wear the eye black with "21" in it. ...

I just thought this was cool

Posted by: Predator48 | October 30, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

"The Steelers employ a lot of deception and trickery in their pass rush, and the Redskins have a savvy veteran line"............this is going to make for a real interesting matchup and game, I get the feeling this is going to be a Monday night classic with a real old-school, hard nose feel to it. Straight out of the 80's or something.

Posted by: dspinx | October 30, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I stand by my belief, avoid Play Action, give JC some plays from shottie and send portis up the gut and b gaps.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 30, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Should I listen to a white man to give me odds when my rent money is up for grabs ? Oh, I'm maybe 12th or so in line but it doesn't really matter. My race had to sit on the back of the bus for 20 years.

Posted by: poolman1200000 | October 30, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

"The Steelers employ a lot of deception and trickery in their pass rush, and the Redskins have a savvy veteran line"............this is going to make for a real interesting matchup and game, I get the feeling this is going to be a Monday night classic with a real old-school, hard nose feel to it. Straight out of the 80's or something.

Posted by: dspinx | October 30, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

He makes it sound so daunting.

F-Blitzburg

Posted by: Devo2

He does that ever week. I must admit I get great joy when the team win and proves him wrong.

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | October 30, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

JLC = fat tub of goo

Posted by: PASkinsFan2 | October 30, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Fun fact from http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08304/923967-66.stm
The Steelers' last pick came early in the third quarter Sept. 21 at Philadelphia, when Troy Polamalu victimized the never-dangerous Kevin Kolb.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 30, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Poolman,

No one cares go back under the bridge.

Posted by: Gweez | October 30, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

The Truth!!

The Truth!!

The Truth is on fire!!

Posted by: TheTruth11 | October 30, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

JLC = fat tub of goo

Posted by: PASkinsFan2 | October

I am not with all the negative stuff JLC has to say about the team or calling the NFL on Vinny. However, all these personal attacks on him really need to stop.

Posted by: icetotalpackage | October 30, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

jasno, check out the teams the steelers have played against before you crown their a $$!

and then check out the offenses skins D has played against.

paper tigers they are, the steelers!

and fans, get your burgundy on will ya???!!! this is a non conference game on a national tv...if you not gonna get up and stick out your chest for this one then when will you? in every category skins are better than the steelers.

don't let the media hype get you down on your team. F the steelers!

Posted by: dealer1 | October 30, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

JLC = fat tub of goo

Posted by: PASkinsFan2 | October

I am not with all the negative stuff JLC has to say about the team or calling the NFL on Vinny. However, all these personal attacks on him really need to stop.

Posted by: icetotalpackage | October 30, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

jasno, check out the teams the steelers have played against before you crown their a $$!

and then check out the offenses skins D has played against.

paper tigers they are, the steelers!

and fans, get your burgundy on will ya???!!! this is a non conference game on a national tv...if you not gonna get up and stick out your chest for this one then when will you? in every category skins are better than the steelers.

don't let the media hype get you down on your team. F the steelers!

Posted by: dealer1 | October 30, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

jasno, check out the teams the steelers have played against before you crown their a $$!

and then check out the offenses skins D has played against.

paper tigers they are, the steelers!

and fans, get your burgundy on will ya???!!! this is a non conference game on a national tv...if you not gonna get up and stick out your chest for this one then when will you? in every category skins are better than the steelers.

don't let the media hype get you down on your team. F the steelers!

Posted by: dealer1 | October 30, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Steelers are a very good team. I just have a feeling everything clicks for the Skins this game and it's our first double digit win of the season

The last time I had this strong a sense was when I called Kelly having a breakout game against the Browns.... uhhg.

Posted by: Gweez | October 30, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

This is going to be a good game. Each team matches up to the other very well. I always view Pitts as being a NFC East style team playing in the wrong conference. They play violent football like the skins do. someone here said 80's tastic game. I think it will not be 80s but a early 90's tastic game, as I see both QB's throwing the ball.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 30, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I like the idea of Campbell in the gun for most of the game-maybe 50% of the snaps. Should allow for him to get into the West Coast swing. He'll be able to survey the D from his normal drop depth at the snap, and adjust based on that.

I also think that the O and D lines are going to be geeked for this game. I imagine that hearing all week that you are the inferior players has to get under their skin and motivate them to play better.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | October 30, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

yeah the steelers suck, trap game def. No reason to look at what the Steelers bring to the table and what the keys would be in stopping them.

Posted by: chrislarry | October 30, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Some good stuff on Post Game Heroes about the Redskins defense:

"Carter was a menace in the passing game, as usual, generating 4 pressures. Erasmus beat the 1st round rookie RT out of Boston College twice…drawing holding penalties both times"

Good to hear about EJames, getting some PT, and causing a small ruckus.

They do go on to talk about what an incredibly POOR job Heyer did, and backed it up with numerous pictures that back their point up. They compare/contrast the Point of Attack positioning of Heyer and Jansen.

Heyer, stands straight up, and gets bulldozed, time, and time again. Jansen on the other hand, shows GREAT technique, and locks onto his man.

Posted by: BeantownGreg | October 30, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

when you say breakout, do you mean he would break out a bone in his body?

Posted by: alex35332 | October 30, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

More Dallas implosion....scroll down for funny video of TO/Irvin on a "hot mike"

http://www.profootballtalk.com/2008/10/29/bollinger-gets-some-first-team-reps/

Irvin has crack damage, def....

Also shouldnt Jerry Jones the owner be blaming jerry jones the GM for even having BJ as the back-up. He signs the players right?

Posted by: chrislarry | October 30, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see the Redskins version of the wildcat debut this week.

Posted by: TWISI | October 30, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Yeah alex that is where the ESP gets a little cloudy. Had I fully listened I would have realized it was an injury and not a game of epic proportion.


Still nothing CL? I guess they say the first ones are always late.

Posted by: Gweez | October 30, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

That was me saying it will be like an 80's game....regardless of the that, I agree with you in that Pittsburgh has always been like an NFC East team stuck in the wrong conference.........I've always had a certain amount of respect and admiration for that team and I think a lot of Skins fans feel that way too. There is something about these 2 teams that will always be a mutal respect and sentimental connection. I don't know if it's because they were always the 1st team we used to knock heads with in the pre-season back when we used to have summer camp in Carlisle, Pa. or what. But for some reason the Skins and Steelers will always be linked. That being said; I hope we beat the snot out of them and ram the football down their throats. 15 carries for Sellers in the 1st half and then turn Portis loose on em in the 2nd half once they are softened up by Caveman Mike. Do it Skins !

Posted by: dspinx | October 30, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Mike Sellars would be lucky to have 15 rushes on the year, let alone in the first half of Monday night's game.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | October 30, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

We need to take some shots with Mossy early and loosen up the D.....

Posted by: Rypien11 | October 30, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Was yucking it up with some of my Steeler-fan chums last night. They are pretty (over)confident about Monday.

They don't see anything in the Skins O that particularly scares them - don't believe Portis will sniff 100.

Obviously, they watch alot of Steelers, and noted that getting pressure on Big Ben has been the key to throwing the Steelers out of sync. Since we don't really get great pressure on the QB, they don't think the Skins have what it takes to stop them.

I hope this kind of overconfidence is running through the Steelers and the Skins feel disrespected...

Posted by: p1funk | October 30, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see the Redskins version of the wildcat debut this week.

Posted by: TWISI | October 30, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse


Who on God's Earth would run that...ARE?? And why would we trot out a tricked up offense against a team that wrecks havoc on a regular offensive set. Pitt can destroy a standard game plan. WHy would we roll out something that we have never done before....hmmmm....wait....a minute...that just might....naaaaa....

Posted by: cej75024 | October 30, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe JLC wasted a dozen or so paragraphs on thoughtful insight and analysis on the Skins next opponent! How is that helpful? He also suggests that Pittsburgh has a pretty good defense. What a hater!
If the WAPO doesn't fire this guy and replace him with someone who can churn out puff pieces on Colt Brennan, then I will stop reading their website for free!
Also, I agree with the previous poster, let's stop the personal attacks on Jason. Questioning his ethics or integrity is one thing, but calling him chubby crosses the line.

Posted by: mack1 | October 30, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Distractions, distractions

Among Ben Roethlisberger's stated concerns about playing the Washington Redskins is their cheerleaders.

That's what he said, anyway.

"I'm not a big fan of playing there because it is loud, they're really good at home and they try to make their cheerleaders stretch in our tunnel before we come out of the locker room. That's just not good," Roethlisberger said yesterday.

The practice by the Redskins cheerleaders was so legendary around the league that when commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to all teams last year banning the practice some dubbed the "Redskins Rule."
"The couple of preseason games I've played down there, we've seen it," Roethlisberger said.

And it's a distraction?

"It can be, let's be truthful. They've done it before. I've heard a rumor that they're not allowed to do it anymore."

Posted by: 4thFloor | October 30, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see the Redskins version of the wildcat debut this week.

Posted by: TWISI | October 30, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Who on Earth would run it....ARE ??? Why would we trot out a tircked up offense againt a team that blows up a regular offense?? Wait...one...second...that might ...just...naaaaaa....that couldn't work for a series or two....could it?? naaaaaa

Posted by: cej75024 | October 30, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: brownwood26 | October 30, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Mike Sellars would be lucky to have 15 rushes on the year, let alone in the first half of Monday night's game.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | October 30, 2008 10:30 AM

And it's a crying shame that it has to be that way.

Posted by: dspinx | October 30, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

so after being one of the oldest team in the NFL thats the best trick we got to get in opponents heads. Hot babes stretching... Well I like it.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 30, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"I'm not a big fan of playing there because it is loud, they're really good at home and they try to make their cheerleaders stretch in our tunnel before we come out of the locker room. That's just not good," Roethlisberger said yesterday.

The practice by the Redskins cheerleaders was so legendary around the league that when commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to all teams last year banning the practice some dubbed the "Redskins Rule."
"The couple of preseason games I've played down there, we've seen it," Roethlisberger said.

And it's a distraction?

"It can be, let's be truthful. They've done it before. I've heard a rumor that they're not allowed to do it anymore."


Posted by: 4thFloor | October 30, 2008 10:33 AM

If they need a place to stretch, I've got a place for them...

Posted by: brownwood26 | October 30, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Yeah 4th, I never knew the Skins' cheerleaders were one of our key weapons!

Go get 'em girls!

Posted by: craig2 | October 30, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

so after being one of the oldest team in the NFL thats the best trick we got to get in opponents heads. Hot babes stretching... Well I like it.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 30, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Didn't the Redskins do some direct snap to Portis stuff last year? I don't think JC split out wide as a WR, so not quite the "Wildcat" formation, but close to the same idea. I seem to remember them having success with it, so it wouldn't be incredibly foreign to the team.

They should hand out "gold" towels to all fans attending Mondays game. This way, all of the traveling Pittsburgh fans who wave their terrible towels won't have any impact at all, from a visual standpoint.

Posted by: -swb | October 30, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Yeah 4th, I never knew the Skins' cheerleaders were one of our key weapons!

Go get 'em girls!

Posted by: craig2 | October 30, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"I'm not a big fan of playing there because it is loud, they're really good at home and they try to make their cheerleaders stretch in our tunnel before we come out of the locker room. That's just not good," Roethlisberger said yesterday.

The practice by the Redskins cheerleaders was so legendary around the league that when commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to all teams last year banning the practice some dubbed the "Redskins Rule."
"The couple of preseason games I've played down there, we've seen it," Roethlisberger said.

And it's a distraction?

"It can be, let's be truthful. They've done it before. I've heard a rumor that they're not allowed to do it anymore."


Posted by: 4thFloor | October 30, 2008 10:33 AM

If they need a place to stretch, I've got a place for them...

Posted by: brownwood26 | October 30, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

There' sa glitch in the Matrix.......

10/30/08

10:55am

Posted by: 4thFloor | October 30, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

We know the skins have been working on the wildcat. ARE even mentioned it in his interview with the steelers press this week. I do this week, giving the steelers something they haven't seen before and also giving the girlz something to think about over the bye. ARE would be my prefernece at the QB, however snapping directly to Portis ins not a bad idea.

Posted by: TWISI | October 30, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Tony Romo reported that he never had that problem with the cheerleaders distracting him. No further questions were asked.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | October 30, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Mike Sellars would be lucky to have 15 rushes on the year, let alone in the first half of Monday night's game.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | October 30, 2008 10:30 AM


And it's a crying shame that it has to be that way.

Posted by: dspinx | October 30, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

It is not a crying shame I love Mike Sellers for what he does I mean I love him, but he is not somebody you want running the ball on any regular basis. Maybe a short yardage here and there, but we have the best back in the league why would you want Sellers to get 15 carries?

Posted by: wstclair | October 30, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Mike Sellars would be lucky to have 15 rushes on the year, let alone in the first half of Monday night's game.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | October 30, 2008 10:30 AM


And it's a crying shame that it has to be that way.

Posted by: dspinx | October 30, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

It is not a crying shame I love Mike Sellers for what he does I mean I love him, but he is not somebody you want running the ball on any regular basis. Maybe a short yardage here and there, but we have the best back in the league why would you want Sellers to get 15 carries?

Posted by: wstclair | October 30, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

larry michaels is a tool and mouthpiece of the redskins management. Do i like hearing only positive stories about the skins? Sure. But being raised in America i've gained a certain appreciation for free press, and snyder's broadcast network is about as far as you can get. Don't you realize that it's GOOD jcl criticizes the team? You may disagree but at least he's thinking for himself.

Let me preempt any and all predictable responses to this posting: considering your ears are right next to your mouth, this is probably not the stupidest thing you've ever heard.

Posted by: batigol85 | October 30, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Also, I agree with the previous poster, let's stop the personal attacks on Jason. Questioning his ethics or integrity is one thing, but calling him chubby crosses the line.

Posted by: mack1 | October 30, 2008 10:33 AM

Well, he is a fat little f#$%er isnt he? We're just reporting the facts!

Posted by: TonyButterFingersHomo1 | October 30, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

larry michaels is a tool and mouthpiece of the redskins management. Do i like hearing only positive stories about the skins? Sure. But being raised in America i've gained a certain appreciation for free press, and snyder's broadcast network is about as far as you can get. Don't you realize that it's GOOD jcl criticizes the team? You may disagree but at least he's thinking for himself.

Let me preempt any and all predictable responses to this posting: considering your ears are right next to your mouth, this is probably not the stupidest thing you've ever heard.

Posted by: batigol85 | October 30, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse


the problem is that he(jlc) is always critical and rarley has anything positive to say.

Posted by: jumbo5383 | October 30, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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