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Let me simply restate a popular, rightfully so, sentiment regarding the Steelers' defense this upcoming season: getting more pressure and, subsequently, turnovers is a must! That will be a goal for the group throughout 2012.
However, this point focuses more on the defensive strategy against the new-look Broncos' offense specifically.
Nobody will confuse Tim Tebow's arm with Peyton Manning's cannon, and for the Pittsburgh Steelers, that may be psychologically fruitful.
While the defensive game-plan last season clearly hinged on stopping the run and applying immediate pressure in the Denver backfield, it was clear well before halftime that the strategy wasn't working, even with recurring safety presence in the box.
The lack of pressure set the Steelers up for failure, but the real killer hinged on bad strategy. Unfortunately, though Tebow may not have the throwing prowess of his peers, he is still a great athlete with a strong arm, just not an NFL arm.
Tebow pulled out some close games in the final minutes last year, and he needs to get credit for those accomplishments. Still, notice that those affairs needed to be low scoring. Why? The simple answer is that the Denver offense was largely ineffective with him at the helm.
The more developed reason for the struggles, particularly relevant in today's passing league, stemmed from Tebow's inabilities to make accurate, intermediate throws into tight passing windows while accounting for safety coverage.
Or, in other words, to sustain offense with his arm against the standard NFL defense.
By bringing up the safety without getting pressure, the Steelers effectively took away an element of struggle for the Denver "passer," (scoff!) all the while giving him the time in the pocket he needed to strike down the field against clear man coverage.
On his first third down completion of the game, he had six seconds to wait for his receiver to get behind the man-to-man coverage. No corner can be expected to keep solid man coverage against an NFL wideout for so long.
It was a recipe for failure, and while many don't understand the x's and o's of where things went awry beyond blaming the corners, I do agree with the layman on one account: the defense was overconfident and the strategy reeked of this overconfidence.
NOT THIS TIME.
The notion of "if Tebow did that to Pittsburgh, imagine what Manning will do" is fallacious. Why?
Because, against Peyton Manning, the Steelers' defense won't implement such a foolhardy strategy... and can't. For all of the danger that is Peyton's right arm, the Steelers know exactly what they're up against in Manning.
As a whole, I believe that an understanding of the opponent and an improved scheme will result in the secondary being able to have success, unlike when they were hung out to dry months ago.
Personally, I think Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis will rank among the most effective corner tandems in the league, and it will start will giving Peyton fits on Sunday night.