The Patriots come up against a confident Steelers team, but one that isn’t without its flaws. How can the Patriots capitalize?
We’ve taken a look at their strengths and the aspects that the Patriots need to be wary of, but the Steelers are certainly a vulnerable foe. In this article, I examine the areas that the Patriots can exploit.
Can The Patriots Nullify Mitch Trubisky And The Passing Game?
Patriots-Steelers matchups in the past have always had the intrigue of a matchup between quarterback legends, and the Brady-Roethlisberger matchups have never disappointed. However, this year, the Patriots are on the better side of a potential quarterback mismatch with Mitch Trubisky leading the Steelers against Mac Jones’ Patriots. Trubisky has been a serviceable NFL quarterback and definitely has the edge in experience. He has definitely been a good game manager at times for Chicago in his four seasons there, however, he does lack the ability to take a game back on his own.
In his career, he has had 65 TDs but also 38 interceptions, and only 16 TDs in his most recent season as a starter. He lacks the ability to get the ball downfield, with just under 6.7 yards per attempt and only a third of his passes going for first downs. Despite the win, he had a poor showing against Cincinnati with just 21-38 passing for 194 yards, just over five yards per attempt. Mitch won’t give the game away and doesn’t make a large number of careless mistakes, but he won’t have the accuracy or explosiveness to really hurt New England’s secondary, although weapons like Chase Claypool, Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Friermuth should help him considerably.
The Patriots’ strong pass rush just pushes the issue even further. Matthew Judon did extremely well in terms of getting to the quarterback, with four QB hits. Other than Judon, they also have an excellent group of linebackers behind him, and a strong pass rush. After a relatively quiet opener, Christian Barmore is due for a big game after an excellent training came as well. Devon Godchaux is looking to make an impact as well. These are just a few names, but the entire defensive front has looked excellent. The Steelers have had struggles in the offensive line, which just accentuates this.
Can The Patriots Take Advantage Of The Porosity Of The Steelers Cornerbacks?
The Steelers certainly possess an opportunistic defense that is able to generate many turnovers. Nobody would agree more than Joe Burrow, who had four interceptions against that secondary. However, taking a deep dive into the game, a couple of those had more to do with the pass rush as well as mistakes from Burrow. However, the Steelers were able to capitalize on every opportunity. With ball security being an issue for the Patriots this could pose a problem.
But in terms of yards, Joe Burrow was able to get it done with 338 yards accompanied with two touchdowns. The secondary did leave some openings and weren’t able to keep up with the Bengals wideouts when their offensive line was able to pass protect. In 2021, the secondary was very much in the middle of the pack statistically, being 13th in passing yards allowed and 19th in passing touchdowns allowed.
While this isn’t a weak unit, and will be aided by a strong pass rush matched up against a struggling Patriots offensive line, they are porous at times, and if Mac can get the ball off quickly and distribute the ball well, they can get a good rhythm going in the passing game, and the absence of TJ Watt will certainly lighten the load on Mac and his offensive line. The key to this, however, will be at least holding up somewhat in the trenches and ball security.
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