With a young quarterback coming off of a knee injury, it would definitely behoove the Buffalo Bills’ offense to employ a run-heavy game plan against the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow. As Buffalo’s starting left and right guards, Doug Legursky and Kraig Urbik could be in for busy yet successful days against Pittsburgh’s front-seven.
With Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith gone and Brett Keisel calcifying before our very eyes, Pittsburgh’s defensive line has struggled to win at the point of attack this season. While Steve McLendon and Cameron Heyward have shown flashes of effectiveness, they are not making anybody forget about the two “Pro Bowlers” I previously mentioned.
Heyward’s emergence over the last month has definitely been nice, and it looks like he is realizing the potential. Yet Ziggy Hood has been a complete and total disappointment during his contract season, and the former Missouri Tiger still looks like he is better suited to play a one-gap defensive tackle spot in a 4-3 defense instead of a defensive end in Pittsburgh’s 3-4.
To be fair to the guys in the trenches, Pittsburgh’s linebackers have not necessarily been models of consistency either.
While Lawrence Timmons has been a “beast” for much of the season at the “mack,” rookie Vince Williams has taken a bulk of the snaps in place of Larry Foote at the “buck” and struggled to take proper angles and be in the correct position on a regular basis. I will cut Williams slack however, especially when one keeps in mind that he is a rookie and would not even be sniffing the field had Larry Foote not been lost for the season on opening day.
As far as setting the edge on a consistent basis has been concerned, LaMarr Woodley, Jason Worilds, and Jarvis Jones have also had their fair share of issues doing that very thing from their outside linebacker spots.
Overall, Pittsburgh’s defense ranks 31st in the league against the run (rushing yards per game) and has allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns through their first eight games. New England and Oakland rushed for 197 yards apiece during the last two weeks, and it looked like members of the Steelers’ defense said “no mas” on LeGarrette Blount’s touchdown run late in the game last weekend in Foxborough.
Buffalo’s run-heavy offense could not be facing a better opponent in the form of Pittsburgh, and the Bills currently rank third in the league in rushing yards per game. With Fred Jackson (502 yards) and a hobbled C.J. Spiller (478 yards) doing a solid job this year, it will be up to Buffalo’s offensive line to make sure that their talented duo will have adequate running lanes to burst through against the Steelers.
Keeping EJ Manuel in “2nd and 3rd & manageable” situations will be key for the Bills, and it would be even sweeter for “Leggo” and Urbik to exact some revenge on the offensive line-needy team which had deemed both of them inadequate in recent years.
The stage is currently set for the former Steelers and the rest of the Bills’ offensive line to have successful afternoons against arguably the worst run defense in the league. I just hope that Pittsburgh’s front-seven are up to the challenge to stop Jackson and Spiller so they can spoil the homecoming of Legursky and Urbik.
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