73 degrees, cloudy – intermittent rain
- This game exposed the Steelers’ biggest flaw, and one that is directly attributable to a coaching judgment: the 2017 Steelers do not have an offensive identity. This flaw would be understandable if they simply lacked offensive talent; however, this Steelers team possesses some of the best offensive talent in the league.
- The Steelers simply are not a power running football team anymore. They have chosen to play a different brand of football – one that does not require QB Roethlisberger to be under center anymore, and one that really doesn’t want to use a fullback any longer. Opposing teams know the Steelers want to throw the ball, and in this matchup, the Steelers game plan was compromised at the kickoff.
- It was compromised because the Jaguars have some of the best defensive personnel in the league; it’s a team that can rush 4 players and still get pressure, and behind that rush, their corners are so good they can mix and match a lot of different coverages. And that’s exactly what they did well in this game, which led to numerous interceptions by Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger was confused all day; when he saw zone, it was man; and when he saw man, it was zone. The Jaguars’ defensive staff deserves much credit for this game.
- While the Steelers’ offense lacks an identity, the Jaguars know exactly what they would like to do each and every game. They will commit to running the ball, give their OL a chance to gain a rhythm and some confidence, and make only those offensive play calls that minimize any chance QB Bortles can turn the ball over. Bortles attempted only one pass in the 2nd half – which is exactly according the game plan for the Jaguars. The Jaguars know they have a good defense, and that defense probably is good for holding opponents to not only 17 points or less, but also good for scoring 7 points the other way. Consequently, the offense needs only to run the ball, control the clock, and not turn the ball over. So far this season, this has been a winning approach for the Jaguars.
- Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone is committed to this approach. When the Steelers went ahead 9-7 almost midway through the 3rd quarter, the Jaguars came out in a 2 tight end set and still ran the ball – just because they went behind on the road to a good opponent, they were not going to panic and start throwing the ball all over the lot.
- The Steelers have had a habit in recent years of playing up to good opponents and down with lesser opponents. They’re simply not reliable at the moment, and this is a reflection on Head Coach Mike Tomlin. This is a squad that certainly has the experience and personnel to challenge for a high playoff seeding, but right now, they are not that reliable.