Steelers' defense focused on stopping Jets' Greene
Ike Taylor isn't buying what the media is selling about the Jets' supposedly vaunted wildcat offense.
The veteran cornerback conceded the Steelers are prepared for the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow packages.
Yet, Taylor vehemently insisted the defense isn't obsessed or distracted by the wildcat, in part, because running back Shonn Greene still ignites an offense that tallied 48 points –– a franchise record for a season opener — after struggling mightily during the preseason.
With the spotlight on Sanchez and Tebow, Greene pounded the Buffalo defense with 27 carries for 94 yards. Greene's stat sheet wasn't overly impressive, but he effectively kept Dave Wannstedt's defense off balance.
Again, that will be the key when the Jets face the Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field in what could be a pivotal AFC game. The Steelers haven't started 0-2 since 2002.
“The game's evolving, so players have to become more intelligent,” safety Will Allen said. “The game isn't nearly as vanilla as it used to be. You have to understand how teams want to attack you. ...They will try to dink and dunk us with short passes to see where our defense is flowing.”
If the Steelers are to defuse the Jets' offense, they must first unplug Greene. They accomplished that in the 2010 AFC Championship Game, partly because they sprinted to a 24-0 lead to force the Jets to abandon their power ground game.
Greene managed only 52 yards on nine carries in the title game, as the Steelers held on to win, 24-19.
“You have to be realistic,” Taylor said. “We can't get caught up with everything people are talking about with Jets' wildcat offense. ...(Greene) is moving the chains and he's running the clock out. They're not giving him 27 carries just to be giving it to him. They're giving it to him to make a point, to make a statement.”
The Jets have an offensive line anchored by three Pro Bowlers –– tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, center Nick Mangold and guard Brandon Moore ––that relishes the chance to engage with perhaps the most physical defense in the NFL.
“We are going to get back to the running game, and we can't wait to show it,” Greene said. “When they (coaches) said, ‘Just be prepared to be in the best shape of your life,' I knew what that meant.”
A year ago, the Jets reluctantly leaned on three-wide receiver sets. At times, they abandoned the power run game in favor of a passing game that often faltered under pressure during a disappointing 8-8 campaign.
The Steelers, though, are expecting the Jets to revert to form — or their perceived strength. While the wildcat is an attention getter, New York's offense doesn't evolve around it.
“Their foundation is Shonn Greene,” Taylor said. “We all know what he can do. He is a one-cutter who is going to bring the wood. There won't be any shaking. He's looking to hand out some punishment and putting people on their back.”
Taylor added that Greene is driven this season, mostly because he doesn't have to share the football with the retired LaDainian Tomlinson. In the previous meetings with the Steelers, Greene had a combined 21 carries for 92 yards, including a 40-yard effort in the 2010 regular season, as the Jets won for the first time in Pittsburgh, 22-17,
“We have to make sure we stop the run,” defensive end Ziggy Hood said. “The wildcat is a distraction. They try to get you to focus on different things, but what they want to do is run downhill.”
Still, the Steelers aren't ignoring the wildcat.
“They didn't want to show everything against Buffalo,” cornerback Keenan Lewis said. “I'm sure they will come out with some different packages. I think Tebow will throw. We can't forget while he's good with his feet, he's still a quarterback.”
The same quarterback, of course, who tossed an 80-yard, game-winning touchdown pass that propelled Denver to a 29-23 victory over the Steelers in the AFC wild-card playoff game in January.
“We just have to play football regardless to who's at quarterback,” Taylor said. “When you're playing a Hall of Famer like Peyton Manning, there are no slip-ups. He's seen it all
“Sanchez is still up-and-coming. It's not a fluke they put 48 points on the board.”
Ralph N. Paulk is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7923
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Mitchell to miss beginning of training camp
- After year off, Steelers’ Pouncey ‘ready to go’
- Steelers won’t negotiate Roethlisberger extension until after season
- Steelers cut linebacker Kion Wilson, sign cornerback Toler
- Five questions facing Steelers entering training camp
- Steelers are in familiar territory going into training camp in Latrobe
- In open AFC North, it’s anyone’s game
- Despite fulfilling promise to mother, Steelers’ Tomlin not yet satisfied
- Timmons feels pressure to transform Steelers back into contender
- Steelers defensive back Thomas isn’t conceding starting position yet
- Versatile linebacker Moats getting up to speed with Steelers