Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New Orleans Saints: Without the Blitz the Ball Will Fly

Tom DaleCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2010

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 12:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints scrambles against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 12, 2006 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Saints 38-31. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Blitzburgh first went into hiding against the Baltimore Ravens. What once populated NFL fields across the country has become an elusive and infrequent sighting. In its place has emerged a defense that is playing not to lose, content to sit back in zone coverages while rushing only three or four defenders.

The cause of the change is baffling. The Steelers currently rank 24th in the NFL in opponent's passing yardage, allowing an average of 235.7 yards per game.

In the first three games of the season, they allowed 219 yards per game, but over the next three games that statistic has ballooned to 266 yards per game. Also worth noting is that one of those games came against Cleveland's Colt McCoy, who was starting in his first NFL game.

This Sunday night, Pittsburgh travels to New Orleans to face a 4-3 Saints team that is a wounded defending Super Bowl champion, having just lost to those same Cleveland Browns.

Quarterback Drew Brees has already thrown for 2,029 yards for a 91.4 passer rating and has two games in which he was over the 350 yard mark.

Aside from scheme on defense, the Steelers have lost defensive end Aaron Smith to a triceps injury that will most likely end his season. At the other end spot, Brett Keisel was out of last week's Miami game with a hamstring injury.

Should Keisel play, it is likely that he will get some help on the right side from Nick Eason, and starting on the left side will be former first round draft choice and second year player Ziggy Hood. That trio is not going to get even a sniff of Brees.

The Steelers and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau are going to have to get back to what the defense does best: using the zone blitz to confuse the quarterback and offensive line, which in turn will get pressure very quickly and force bad decisions and passes.

If this doesn't happen, expect Brees to rip the Steelers for 350+ yards on Sunday, and most likely hanging a loss on Pittsburgh.

This article is also featured on Steelers Source.