The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense will be faced with a tough task on Sunday afternoon when they face off against the New York Jets‘ defense which is ranked second in the league in total yards allowed.
As difficult as that may seem, Pittsburgh’s defense is not in for an easy outing either. In fact, they have to contend with the Jets’ offense which is being piloted by the rapidly improving Geno Smith.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has definitely taken notice of the rookie signal-caller, and Scott Brown of ESPN.com tweeted the following earlier today:
Steelers DC Dick LeBeau on Jets QB Geno Smith: “He’s definitely better every outing and he was damn good Monday night.”
— Scott Brown (@ScottBrown_ESPN) October 10, 2013
After a tumultuous start to his professional career, 11 turnovers during his first four games, Smith managed to put together a career-game against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.
Despite a few hiccups when it came to his pocket awareness, the former West Virginia Mountaineer looked calm and collected, played with a great deal of confidence, and did a fine job of distributing the ball to his play-makers.
Smith put his accuracy on display (16/20), threw for three touchdowns, illustrated his mobility and running prowess (three carries, 21 yards) and led his team down the field (eight plays, 55 yards, 1:54) to set up Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal.
Brimming with confidence, Smith has the luxury of facing one of the worst defense’s in the league this weekend when he plays the Steelers.
Not only does Pittsburgh’s defense have issues stopping the run (31st in rushing yards allowed per game), they have not created pocket collapse consistently (32nd in sacks) either. It also hasn’t helped that they have yet to force a single turnover during the first 16 quarters of regular season play as well.
Although LeBeau’s defenses have enjoyed success against rookie quarterbacks during his tenure (16-2 overall record), that record essentially means nothing when one compares his 2013 defense to the others which completely befuddled first-year signal-callers in years past.
If the Steelers cannot harass Smith in the pocket, shore up their run defense, or at least play some press-coverage, Smith should be able to rely on his ground game and a high-percentage passing game like the Vikings did almost two weeks ago.
The less comfortable the rookie is, the better, and Pittsburgh’s defense cannot take the talented Smith lightly this weekend.
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