Take 2: Steelers vs Chargers

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger were both high selections in 2004, but Rivers is two years behind. Pittsburgh developed the model for bringing along a young, talented quarterback and the Chargers are mimicking it with Rivers.
The formula isn't easy to pull off. By putting these young quarterbacks in situations where they only have to throw between 15 and 25 times per game, both quarterbacks have had success early in their careers. The key is to plays outstanding defense, especially against the run, and run the football effectively on offense.

Rivers has attempted just 68 passes over three games. Bill Cowher learned much under Marty Schottenheimer and both coaches believe this is the best way to bring along a young quarterback. Other teams that draft quarterbacks high should take note and get the pieces around the quarterback first.

• These teams have a lot in common, which makes sense considering Cowher learned his trade under Schottenheimer. Both coaches favor an attacking 3-4 defense, that focuses on stopping the run and putting offenses in third-and-long situations. After making opposing offenses one-dimensional, they bring heat and look to punish the quarterback.

Both also realize the extreme importance of the nose tackle in the 3-4 and have built their defenses around their nose tackle. Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton and San Diego's Jamal Williams, are probably the top two nose tackles in football. Both Cowher and Schottenheimer believe in a run-first offense and don't want to take too many risks with the football. They preach fundamentals, special teams and physical play.

• Steelers' defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is a master at confusing young quarterbacks and Rivers will be tested mentally in this game. Rivers has only taken one sack and is good at getting the ball out of his hand quickly, but Pittsburgh's blitz packages challenge even the most veteran quarterbacks. LeBeau does a great job of mixing his personnel groupings, varying his blitz packages and attacking an offense's biggest weakness.

• In the 3-4 defense, it is imperative to have playmakers at linebacker. Although they are getting up in age, Pittsburgh's linebackers have a great understanding of Pittsburgh's complex schemes. They play the run extremely well and are a tough, physical group.

San Diego's foursome is similar, but younger on the outside and a little better suited for coverage inside. The real difference between the two units is Shawne Merriman, who is a superior playmaker. He is very big, fast, strong and extremely competitive.

• Both teams need a secondary receiving option to step up. TE Antonio Gates is Rivers' top target and LaDainian Tomlinson does a fine job of catching the ball out of the backfield, but San Diego's wide receivers need to become more dangerous to take pressure off the running game.

The Chargers haven't thrown much, but Keenan McCardell has battled hamstring issues and Vincent Jackson is still very raw. On the other side, Hines Ward has also fought hamstring issues, but is too good of a football player not to come around.

TE Heath Miller is a fine option, but Pittsburgh hasn't looked his way as often as it should. For Ward to step up, a second wide receiver needs to take some of the extra coverage off the Pro Bowler. Santonio Holmes is the most likely candidate, but asking rookie receivers to take a major role is tough and Holmes has yet to show he is capable of being that player for the Steelers' passing game.

• San Diego's offense has been successful using unorthodox personnel groupings. They are becoming effective with their no-huddle attack. Because of Gates, they don't lose much in their passing game when they take out a wide receiver and replace him with massive TE Brandon Manumaleuna, a giant road-grading blocker.

The Chargers will run behind an unbalanced line and have several jumbo packages that can overpower defenses. They will also bring in second running back Michael Turner, using Tomlinson as a slot receiver to get favorable matchups in both the running and passing game.

• Tomlinson is a special player and his importance to the Chargers isimmense. He has rare running skills. He stops and starts on a dime, is extremely explosive, plays low and competes for every yard, with the ability to break the home run. His presence makes Rivers' job much easier. Tomlinson catches the ball well and can create mismatches when they split him out wide.

San Diego has been dominating its opponents in time of possession and Tomlinson is a huge reason why. This week will be a test for San Diego's great runner, but he is almost impossible to contain. The Steelers' cornerbacks match up very well with San Diego's wide receivers and LeBeau could be aggressive in run defense to slow down Tomlinson. The Chargers should take some shots deep downfield against single coverage to help their running game.

• The Chargers have developed a habit of losing close games to playoff-caliber teams. They blew four quarter-leads last year, including against the Steelers, and went into a shell in Baltimore last week. The Ravens made several crucial mistakes that should have meant their demise, but San Diego took the ball out of Rivers' hands and became too conservative. They aren't the type of team that will blow out teams.

Special Teams
Pittsburgh's special teams have been among the worst in the league. Ricardo Colclough no longer will return punts after a crucial muff against Cincinnati. Those duties will now fall to one of Pittsburgh's rookies, Santonio Holmes or Willie Reid.

• Pittsburgh LT Marvel Smith against San Diego OLB Shawne Merriman
• San Diego QB Philip Rivers against Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau
• San Diego LT Marcus McNeill against Pittsburgh ROLB Joey Porter
• NTs Jamal Williams and Casey Hampton against OCs Jeff Hartings and Nick Hardwick
• San Diego TE Antonio Gates against Pittsburgh's Linebackers

Scouts' Edge
Defense will dominate on Sunday night and both quarterbacks will be tested. The offenses will rely on the running game and play it tight to the vest in a field-position battle. Mistakes, turnovers and special teams play will go a long way towards dictating the winner, which figures to favor San Diego. Pittsburgh is a veteran football team and plays great when its back is against the wall.

Both teams are healthy and Pittsburgh should be very well rested after its bye week. Both tight ends could have big nights as well. Roethlisberger will come up big, demonstrate his experience in big games and lead his Steelers to a key road victory. Don't be shocked if this game comes down to a last-minute field goal.

Prediction: Steelers 17, Chargers 14


May 25, 2006
Thanks Ray.

Our D can slow down their offense and pressure Ben.

Let's hope there is a different game plan this week. They need to let Rivers do his thing and throw the ball with some regularity. Not wait until that is what he HAS to do.

Don't play for FGs and when they stack the line with 8 and 9, which they will do, burn the fakers.