New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sketching out a Game Plan for New York

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer ISeptember 14, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets calls a play during their 19 to 24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez made the Bills look like a high school defense.

That's in part because they played a high school defense, according to Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network.

This will be a tougher challenge for Mark Sanchez. Last week, he got Buffalo playing a lot of Cover 1, he got Buffalo playing a lot of easy coverages to read [and] he threw the ball up. I'm not sure what Buffalo was trying to accomplish on defense, which ultimately, they accomplished nothing because they didn't really stop anything.

The Steelers, on the other hand, got torched by a Broncos offense spearheaded by Peyton Manning. Of course, Mark Sanchez is no Peyton Manning, but there are some things we learned about the Steelers defense on Sunday night that can be applied to the Jets game plan for their Week 2 showdown.

Likewise, while Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is lauded for his escape ability, that skill could be put to the test all season long if the Steelers offensive line is as bad as they looked in Denver, allowing pressure on 19 of Roethlisberger's 46 drop-backs (41.3 percent), according to Pro Football Focus.

With all that in mind, let's draw up a game plan for a Jets win.


Jets Offense vs. Steelers Defense

Sanchez lit up a suspect Bills secondary in Week 1, but up against the Steelers defense, he'll have a tougher challenge. 

The Jets got a gift with the absence of pass-rushing phenom James Harrison, who will be out of the lineup for Week 2, but the one guy they'll be focusing on the most is safety Troy Polamalu. The Jets weren't as well-rounded offensively last week as they might like to be, but they can still take advantage of Polamalu's aggressive style of play.

We saw Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning do the same on a screen pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas that went 70 yards for a touchdown.

On 2nd-and-1, Manning lined up in the shotgun with running back Willis McGahee to his left. 

Manning recognized the blitz pre-snap and took advantage by targeting that side of the field. Meanwhile, the play-action fake to McGahee was enough to bait Polamalu into thinking it was a running play.

He was caught out of position, and subsequently took a bad angle to the ball-carrier; this allowed the offensive line to spring Thomas for a touchdown.

Perhaps the Jets could try something similar to Thomas' former Georgia Tech teammate, Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill. They ran him deep a lot against the Bills, but got him the ball on short routes over the middle a few times. The Jets are not a dynamic screen offense, but they could do some damage on short passes to take advantage of an aggressive Steelers defense.


Jets Defense vs. Steelers Offense

This has to be all about the pass rush.

The Broncos were extremely successful in getting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, sacking the quarterback five times. Linebackers Von Miller, Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard combined for 3.5 of those sacks.

The Broncos got pressure multiple ways: with a four-man rush and with a blitz.

The first sack came on 3rd-and-12 as a result of a line stunt, with defensive tackles Derek Wolfe and Justin Bannan running a variation of what is often called a "twist."

Wolfe started with an upfield rush, but cut back through a gap in the line and wrapped up Roethlisberger at the feet. Under normal circumstances, Roethlisberger may have rolled to his left, but Mays and defensive end Elvis Dumervil were in position with containment on that side. There may have been an opportunity for him to roll to the right, but the pressure got there too quickly for him to see it.

The Broncos were successful running an overload blitz, which Rex Ryan is sure to have seen in the film room.

On 2nd-and-11, the Broncos sent five on the rush after Roethlisberger. Four defenders attacked the offense's right, coming off the left side of the defense. This included safety Chris Harris, who shot through the B-gap between the right guard and right tackle.

Harris disguised his blitz well before the snap, and Mays helped out as the two combined for the sack.

The Jets certainly won't hesitate to send their defensive backs on blitzes. According to Pro Football Focus, they sent their defensive backs on a blitz a total of 228 times in 2011.

NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth gives us the lowdown on the broadcast:

They're getting some pressure right over here with this Chris Harris blitz off the side in addition to what's happening up the middle of the field. Doug Legursky [is] trying to hang on, and boy, they really think highly of Joe Mays, don't they? They talk about when he hits you, you know you've been hit, and that was a big one.

All in all, the fierce pressure up the middle combined with containment on the outside was the recipe for the Broncos putting such bountiful pressure on Roethlisberger. The Jets have a fierce interior defensive line, but they failed to get much pressure on Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. 

The pressure has to come from all angles, and has to get there quickly, or else Roethlisberger could do what he does best: extend the play. 

If they're unable to prevent that from happening, and Roethlisberger turns the game into sandlot football, the Jets could be in for a long day, especially if cornerback Darrelle Revis is inactive.

UPDATE: Revis is inactive. So the Jets better be bringing Roethlisberger down regularly, or it could be a long day for their secondary.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.


    Peter King's Last Monday Morning Quarterback

    NFL logo

    Peter King's Last Monday Morning Quarterback

    Report: 2019 Draft Likely in Nashville

    NFL logo

    Report: 2019 Draft Likely in Nashville

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Jets' Depth Chart Entering OTAs

    New York Jets logo
    New York Jets

    Jets' Depth Chart Entering OTAs

    Vikings' Dalvin Cook Ahead of Schedule in ACL Rehab

    NFL logo

    Vikings' Dalvin Cook Ahead of Schedule in ACL Rehab