Opponent: Tennessee Titans; Defensive Type: 4-3; (2012) Defensive Rank: 27th; (2012) Average yards allowed a game: 374.9
1 PM Eastern time could not come quick enough in Pittsburgh. The Steelers will be facing the Tennessee Titans in week one of the regular season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be matching up against the 27th ranked defense from a year ago, but they have some new faces there that will look to stop Roethlisberger and the offense. How will Big Ben and the Steelers defeat the Titans in week one? Lets take seven steps back.
Roethlisberger will be without his biggest target from 2012, Heath Miller as the season begins. As Miller continues to to fight back, the Steelers have three tight ends that will have a lot of playing time according to offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Will they run the same type of packages as they would if Miller was in there? My guess is no. You may even see the Steelers use Kelvin Beachum, who is the swing offensive lineman, in the tight end position.
“Heath is the best tight end in the game, said Roethlisberger earlier this week. “So, not only is he a comfort blanket for me, he opens up the outside receivers because he requires so much attention from linebackers and safeties down the middle of the field, and short passes, underneath stuff. We’ll definitely miss him and hope and wish him a speedy recovery.”
Roethlisberger and the offense have a set game plan that needs to be executed early in the game. The Titans defense added some new faces starting with Bernard Pollard who is familiar with the Steelers. Pollard was released by the Baltimore Ravens during the offseason. The Titans also hired Gregg Williams as the team’s senior assistant coach.
“Yeah, we’ve watched a lot of film. We watched last year’s game, we’ve watched preseason stuff and we’ve watched Saints’ stuff. We don’t know what to expect, so we’re preparing a little bit for everything. I would have to expect a lot of what we saw when we played the Saints a couple of years ago – a lot of crazy blitzes and different looks and stuff. “
The Titans’ defense is more than capable to get after the quarterback. They ranked 9th in the NFL in 2012 with 39 total sacks. Roethlisberger must find his targets and continue to move the chains. Receivers Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jerricho Cotchery have all had a good training camp and preseason.
It is important to establish a running game. The Steelers have ruled out rookie Le’Veon Bell, but Isaac Redman, Felix Jones, and LaRod Stephens-Howling should all get opportunities to showcase what they have as the coaching staff is waiting to see which back will take the competition and run with it.
“I think our running backs will be great. I’m excited to see what Felix Jones can do here in Pittsburgh and LaRod Stephens-Howling as well,” said Roethlisberger. “I know what Isaac Redman brings to the table because he’s been here, and he’s a good back for us. I’m just excited to see what happens on Sunday with everybody out there.”
The 10th tear quarterback is closing in on 30,000 career passing yards. However, it is all about winning each game Roethlisberger will tell you. Making each drop back count.