Stillers-Jets AFCC Preview
The Stillers host the surprising Jest (sic), who graciously upset the Patriots to enable the Stillers to host the AFCC.
Keys for this game:
Keys when the Stillers have the ball:
- Contain Shaun Ellis. Last week, I begged for the Stillers to contain Suggs. Obviously, that failed, as Arians gave Scott and Essex no more help than lobbing an anvil to a drowning man. This week, it�s Ellis, who is a manster -- half man, half monster. For a DE, he�s a beast, every bit as powerful and rangy as Strahan and Freeney were in their prime. He must be accounted for on every single play, and someone (or some two) must get a hat and a pair of hands on him on every play.
- Get Ben on a designed move once in a while. Almost unbelievably, the Stillers ran zero boots, waggles, or rollouts the entire game last week. Sure, if you have a boot-footed QB like Brady or Trent Dilfer, this might be acceptable. But Ben is mobile, agile, and is well capable of reading the LBs to determine if he should keep or throw. I�m not advocating 12 of these kinds of plays, but 1 or 2 sprinkled in here and there would help immensely in keeping the Jets defense from simply teeing off at a stationary target.
- That said, ensure Ben understands that he can run ad-hoc with the ball. Last week, Tom Lady basically shackled himself in the pocket, and never once took off out of the pocket when his first 2 or 3 reads were covered and he was feeling the pressure. Brady usually gets the ball out in 3 ticks or less. But, the Jets were content to solo the outside WRs, rush 3 guys, and clog the middle profusely. Brady obviously isn�t a fluid runner, but the Jets� sit-back scheme was all but begging him to scamper ahead for 5 or 6 yards.
Ben and Arians MUST see this on the film, and Ben must be prepared to dash forward or diagonally and take the 6 yards, and with Ben�s decent mobility and craftiness, he�s often bound to gain 10+ yards on a scramble.
- Get the RBs involved in the passing game. Last week, Mendy caught the lone RB pass, that for 13 yards on a screen. Not once did this sporadic offense try a checkdown, a valve-dump, or a designed 2nd-option swing pass to a back in space. If the Jets are going to man up on the outside WRs and drop back, these short passes to the RB�s should be quite effective, and they�ll keep Ben from taking the sack that sets up the constant 2nd & 17�s that we�ve been bogged down with.
- Have someone other than Heath Miller pass-block in the backfield. There is a vast array of choices here. Rashard Mendenhall. Mewelde Moore. Isaac Redman. David Johnson. Doug Legursky. I want our quick, athletic, tall, big, strong, sure-handed fellow named Miller out in pass patterns and moving the chains, not doing the equivalent of janitorial work back in the pocket. Plus, on valve dumpoffs, all 3 RBs are better RAC runners that close to the line of scrimmage, than is Miller. And remember, in Jets1, backup TE Matt Spaeth, who started for an injured Miller, was THE focal point of the offense, targeted on 9 (nine) passes, the 2nd-to-last of which he dropped on a cake-easy reception in the end zone late in the game. If Spaeth, a total, lumbering stiff, can be targeted with a maddening array of passes, then Heath Miller can and should as well.
- Throw the post to Wally on Revis. The superb former Pitt star is at his best when pinning a WR along the sidelines. He legally squeezes many WRs by use of the sideline chalk. As my esteemed colleague PalmerSucks noted, however, Revis is less stellar on the deep post, where he loses the chalk as his friend. As good as Revis is, I believe you�ve got to take a shot with Wally downtown, and that shot needs to be on a post, rather than a sideline route.
- Be prepared to endure the slow start by Ben and the Offense. Ben and the �O� have a penchant for starting slowly and stumbling thru most of the 1H. It�s be nice to reverse this trend. If not, the key is to avoid ghastly turnovers like the 2 that plagued the Stillers last week in the 1st half. Most playoff games are won or lost in the 2H, and Ben and the O must be up to the task after halftime.
Keys when the Trippers have the ball:
- Contain Shonn Green. Both Greenie & Tomlinson had solid success in Jets1, with Green getting 40 yards on 12 rushes and Tommy 49 on 11. The Pats got a lot of rush yards in garbage time in their beating of the Stillers in Nov, so this Jets loss was, by far, the worst rush defense of the season. Sure, Pola did not play, but the ground defense was extremely soft n� cheesy that day. Green concerns me more than Tommy, as Green (at 226 lbs.) is bigger and seems to run better in cold weather than the playoff-meek Tomlinson does. Plus, Green runs better on poor footing than Tommy, and Heinz Field should be pretty raggedy come Sunday.
- Bottle Braylon. Of all the Jets WRs, Braylon caused the most problems in Jets1, grabbing 8 for 100 yards. Most often an enigma in his NFL career, Edwards has had a terrific playoffs thus far. I believe Ike Taylor will be locked up on Tonio Holmes. Edwards will probably be matched against McFadden, or if Fadden cannot go, then Will Gay. This is the kind of matchup that keeps me awake at night and causes me to stockpile large jars of Rolaids.
- Get something out of LaMarr Woodley. By something, I mean ANYTHING even semi productive. Big LaMarr finished the div. playoff game vs. Balt with (hold your laughter) a whopping 1 (one) solo stop, which came on a slop sack in which the Ravens went with an unbalanced line to the left, and brought in backup tackle Tony Moll as a tackle-legible to play RT. Moll moved extremely LATE at the snap, and barely grazed Big LaMarr, who got a cake-easy Dong Sack. That was it from the big he-man. He applied very little other heat, and obviously finished with no other solos.
Last week, Dick got some value out of Big LaMarr in underneath
flat coverage versus Balt, which helped to take away
some slants and slot-outs. LaMarr rushed only 20 times during the entire game, versus 18
times dropping into coverage.
Obviously, if the guy is totally worthless as a rusher, he might as well
take up some space in coverage, slow as he is, with his long body and long
arms. The Stiller defense has 2 glaring weak spots
-- Woodley and Clark. They got some
nice contributions from
- Allow Timmons to make plays. Timmons had a very strong, almost un-noticed effort last week. He�ll be extremely instrumental in both stuffing the run as well as bottling the short passes to Tomlinson and Keller. This man should never, ever leave the field this Sunday unless suffering from injury.
- Attack and pressure Mark Sanchez.
Last week, James Harrison was
held BACK in near-constant pass coverage the entire 1H, covering on 12 pass
plays while rushing on only 10. Of
course, while totally unfettered, Joe Jacco enjoyed a
comfy, near-flawless 1st half. It�s no coincidence
You saw Sanchez and his deer-in-a-headlights look last week as he struggled vs. NE. This dude is ripe to be pressured, harassed, and harried. The Jest (sic) have recently been lured into a sense of offensive competence, having beaten not 1, but 2 weak-assed defenses in Indy and N.E. The Patsie defense was a well-known joke, and the Colt defense, while sporting a good 1-2 punch by their pass-rushing DEs, has nowhere near the depth, ability, and versatility of the Stiller defense. That said, I believe it is prudent to rampage and pillage Sanchez from the very first series. Let him know this ain�t Indy. Let him know he�s in for a long day. Let him realize he�s going to be hounded and attacked on nearly every single play.
- Ensure Dick LeBeau is awoken after halftime. In Jets1, the Jets offense sat, in real time, well over 35 minutes, beginning late in the 2Q, thru halftime, and well into the 3Q, before finally getting the ball midway thru the 3Q. At that point, the Stillers had just scored a TD to take a seemingly-commanding 17-10 lead. Just 1 problem - - no one bothered to wake up Def. Coord Dick LeBeau.
Facing a struggling, inept offense that hadn�t scored a TD since Thanksgiving, here is what Dick's vaunted defense did after the Steelers took a 17-10 lead in the 3Q and seemed to have ALL of the momentum on their side --
- 8 plays, 66 yard drive, TD
- 13 plays, 50-yard drive, CHIPPIE FG.
- With the Stillers down by 3 with only 7 minutes remaining in the game and desperate to get the ball back, the Jets marched 10 plays, 4:24 clock was CHEWED, and after the punt, the field was FLIPPED from the NY 24 to the PIT 3. Most folks remember the safety, but they forget that the safety would have never occurred in the first place if Dick hadn�t been sound asleep and if he�d put a STOP to this long, laborious march.
Four 2nd-half drives, and the defense failed (using any common sense pass-fail analysis) on 3 of those drives. 75% failure rate! The Jets offense dashed up and down the field more than the Grambling marching band. Add to that, the total bamboozlement on the 4th & 1 TD run, which occurred AFTER an official timeout to measure, which gave Dick a FREE timeout to get his defense straight.
Playing at home, with the fan frenzy and the crown noise, this is where the Stiller defense (supposedly �#1 in the NFL�) should have stepped up, kicked ass, and dominated the living piss out of the struggling Jet offense. In fact, it was during this horrific, feeble-fuk half of football that I became enraged with Dick The Dullard and have been stewing and pissed off ever since. Dick could actually earn some of his deified status if, this time, he simply shows up after halftime in a coherent, lucid state of mind.
Spec teams. The Stiller coverage teams started to leak badly the final quarter of the season, with a low point being the game-opening KO return by Brad Smith for a TD versus the NY Trippers. The coverage tightened up considerably in the final 2 reg season games, although both opponents were uninspired and disinterested. The coverage last week was rather sub-par, especially on KO returns. The Trippers have the league�s leading kick returner in Brad Smith, who sat out last week�s game but will presumably play this Sunday. Even if Smith can�t make a go of it, Cromartie is no chopped liver as a KO returner. I also wouldn�t be surprised if Rex Ryan decides to insert Tonio Holmes in as a punt returner on a couple occasions, in hopes of creating a spark.
Suisham looked extremely
shaky and erratic last week, hooking a FG badly and nearly hooking a PAT. The snaps weren�t perfect, but were more
than good enough, as were the holds. The
Jets� kicker, Nick Folk, is no supreme kicker, and he missed his lone FG
attempt last week in
In Jets1, you saw a real NFL punter
(Weatherford) on the other team, who had a SUPERB game. Krapinos,
meanwhile, sucked monkey cock. He�s
improved slightly since that ghastly day, and he�ll need to punt a shit-pot
better in order to help the Stillers win the battle of FP. Krapinos has an
incredibly poor ability to land pooch punts inside the 10.....he either gets
them to the 20, or rockets them into the EZ for a touchback. With the crowd noise, it�d be awesome if Krapinos could get just one good pooch punt and pin the
Jest down on their 2-yard line, which would then allow
Summary: This is a game, at home, that the Stillers should win, and frankly, should dominate against a mediocre Jets team. The Trippers barely beat an injury-riddled Dolts team 2 weeks ago. Yes, the Jets beat the Stillers on Dec 19th, although, playing without Miller and Pola, the Stillers still would have won this game had Matt Spaeth not allowed a routine, simple TD pass to zip right thru his brittle hands late in the game. Yes, the Jets beat the Patriots, but that was a personal, bitter, revenge game for the Jets, and the Pats were obviously over-confident and lax. Plus, in the case of the Pats, their horrendous defense finally caught up to them.
The Stillers have a vastly superior QB, are playing at home, and pound for pound, have a better overall defense. Those 3 factors are unbelievable huge come playoff time.
As long as Dick LeBeau, the supreme almighty lord deity of defensive football, can prevent the Jets from marching up and down the field like the Grambling marching band the way they did back on Dec. 19th (esp. in the 2nd half), the Steelers should win this game. Should.
and Stillers.com -- when it comes to the analysis of the