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Speaking with the enemy: 3 questions with Titans Wire

Every week we reach out to one of our fellow Wire sites to get the inside scoop on the opposition ahead of the game. This week the Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football in a battle of two of the best teams in the AFC. So we got ahold of our friends over at Titans Wire to see what they could tell us about the opponent this time around.

1-The Steelers have been suspect against the pass but the Titans offense is geared around the run. Do you think they will try and throw more against a beat up Steelers secondary Thursday night?

The Titans are in an interesting spot offensively. They’re still run-first, but they won’t hesitate to let Mariota sit back and let it rip. Mariota already has five games with 30-plus pass attempts after having just seven all of last season. What they try to do on offense is establish the run early no matter what the success rate is.

they hit teams over the top with play action,Their rushing attack is good enough that teams have to load up the box to stop it. Eventually, which is where Mariota really thrives as a passer. I expect we’ll see something similar to that game plan Thursday.

so I’ll do it here. The Titans traded up to draft Taylor in the third round in this year’s draft after taking wide receiver Corey Davis with the No. 5 overall pick. Taylor was initially seen as a slot guy with a ton of athleticism that could work well in short spaces. He’s proven to be a much bigger threat than that as a receiver and a runner. The Titans will line him up all over the field,I was trying to figure out a way to work wide receiver Taywan Taylor into this, and use him in multiple facets of their offense.

He isn’t their most prolific receiver, and has catches of 42 and 53 yards this season. On those plays, he showed off sensational speed where he made on move and then runs by a defensive back. Unfortunately, but he does lead the team with 16.0 yards-per-reception, Taylor has gotten buried on the depth chart as the Titans have gotten healthy in the receiving corps, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they deploy him more against the Steelers in search of a big play or two.

and they’ve put together some pretty abysmal quarters. On the other hand,The numbers don’t indicate that the Titans are a better team this year than they were last year. Their offensive numbers are down, an eye test shows they’ve improved pretty dramatically just by virtue of better personnel. Last season they were running out arguably the worst secondary and wide receiver corps in the NFL.

and their offense is starting to show signs of life after injuries and integration of new personnel slowed some of the momentum they gained last season. We’re starting to see signs of life from the offense though, and it looks like they’re really starting to develop into the dynamic,Now their defense is playing better thanks to cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Adoree’ Jackson, explosive unit we thought they’d be going into this season.

It wasn’t pretty,Womens Jerome Bettis Jersey, 20-17. At 7-2, an NFL record, and beat the Indianapolis Colts, with a three-game lead in the division,Womens Jack Lambert Jersey, but the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday made up a 14-point deficit for the third time since last season, you would think all is well in Pittsburgh. Yet its offense is underwhelming, and could be an Achilles’ heel going forward.

Just look at how the Steelers struggled against a Colts defense that had allowed 2.1 points per drive (the fourth-worst rate in 2017) with just 27.5 percent of drives going three-and-out (the sixth-lowest in the NFL this season). Instead of piling on the points, Pittsburgh nearly was shut out in the first half for the third time since 2012.

For starters, his completion rate (61.1 percent) is the lowest it has been since 2012,Womens James Conner Jersey, 35-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is in a fast decline. Once one of the league’s most intimidating passers, the first year for offensive coordinator Todd Haley, as is his overall passer rating (83.8). You have to go back to 2008 to find Roethlisberger with a lower passer rating (80.1) than this season’s.

In addition, the Steelers take more chances downfield than an average NFL team,Authentic Jack Lambert Jersey, just 30.2 percent of Roethlisberger’s deep passes have been deemed catchable by the game charters at Pro Football Focus; the rest of the league checks in at 37.5 percent. To be fair, but maybe they shouldn’t considering their receivers aren’t able to make plays on these passes. In fact, his ability to throw the deep ball is in free fall: Roethlisberger is a mere 14 for 52 (27 percent) on passes traveling 20 or more yards in the air. Plus, eight of those 14 catches are by star wideout Antonio Brown with five more by JuJu Smith-Schuster, leaving the rest of Pittsburgh’s receiving corps a woeful 1 for 18.

when Roethlisberger set a career-high 49.1 percent completion rate on deep passes, he was under pressure 28.2 percent of the time; that has dropped slightly to 28.1 percent in 2017. Time-in-pocket data is only available since 2011,And this isn’t something you can blame on the offensive line. In 2009, but Roethlisberger isn’t being rushed to throw any more than he has in years past.

Red-zone situations haven’t been great, and with opponents not fearing the pass as much, either, the Steelers’ short running game has become less effective, too.

Pittsburgh has scored eight times in 48 passing attempts inside the 20-yard line (21 percent; league average is 23.5), with two or fewer yards to go, compared to just 5 of 38 rushing attempts (10.4 percent; league average is 16). Perhaps this is where the offensive line is faltering: Six of 10 runs on third or fourth down, achieved a first down but none became touchdowns; the league average is 73 percent, with almost 1 out of every 13 rushes in these situations reaching the end zone.

This also isn’t something you can blame on home/road splits. In 2017, respectively. Perhaps some of those red-zone issues at home are due to a small sample size of three games, but there is no getting around that, Pittsburgh is scoring 1.8 points per drive at home with a 23.1 percent red-zone efficiency (second-worst). On the road those numbers are 1.7 and 55 percent, overall, the Steelers have converted on 42.4 percent of their chances inside the red zone; only the Colts are worse (41.7 percent). And this is by far the worst the Steelers have performed in the red zone under Coach Mike Tomlin and Haley.

The bottom line for the Steelers: Despite an impressive record, they aren’t Super Bowl contenders.

Since 2002, with just eight of the 30 teams finishing the season below average (16th or worse). Three of those teams — the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the average red-zone efficiency rank of a team appearing in a Super Bowl has been 11.6, 2003 New England Patriots and 2016 Denver Broncos — went on to win the Super Bowl,Authentic Jerome Bettis Jersey, leaving little room for the Steelers to earn the franchise’s seventh championship ring.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ bye week seems to have come at a fantastic time for the team—at least in terms of getting healthy.

three of which ended up not being able to play against Detroit. In fact, there has not been a week where the Steelers have had everyone available,The Steelers (6-2) listed two players on their initial Week 10 injury report. This is quite different than their Week 8 injury report that included five players, which includes the season’s opening week.

Starting free safety Mike Mitchell was limited in practice due to an Achilles injury that he suffered against the Lions. He reportedly suffered the injury late in the game, during his press conference, which was initially diagnosed as a calf strain. On Tuesday, coach Mike Tomlin said that Mitchell was day-to-day. So it’s a good sign that the 30-year-old was out there,Authentic James Conner Jersey, though it is too early tell whether he will definitely play Sunday.

veteran James Harrison was unable to practice as a result of back issues. This was a bit of surprising news as Harrison did not play at all against Detroit in Week 8 despite dressing,In the meantime, who has been inactive two times this year,Authentic Le'Veon Bell Jersey, marking the second time this year that has occurred. The 39-year-old, has only been on the field for 29 defensive snaps.

linebackers coach Joey Porter said that the franchise’s all-time sack leader is in the team’s future plans.,Womens Jerome Bettis Jersey,Despite the lack of playing time

” Porter. “We’ll use James when we feel it’s time to use James.”,“James is never out of the picture

that is good news for right tackle Marcus Gilbert,Authentic Jack Lambert Jersey,With those two on the report, though both have indicated that they are ready to go against Indianapolis. There was no word on McDonald’s back trouble, along with defensive end Stephon Tuitt and tight end Vance McDonald. Tuitt (back) and Gilbert (hamstring) have missed the last two games, so it seemingly bodes well for his return this week.

Tomlin said that wide receiver Martavis Bryant will be active and likely start this week. Bryant was inactive against the Lions.,Womens Le'Veon Bell Jersey,In other news

JuJu Smith-Schuster gets drivers license

The last year or so has got to seem like a whirlwind for Steelers rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster. First, Smith-Schuster hauled in seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown to help the USC Trojans earn a 52-49 come-from-behind victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the prestigious Rose Bowl. Then he decided to forgo his senior campaign and declare for the NFL where he, of course, was selected with the No. 62 overall pick in the second round by the Steelers.

Smith-Schuster started the year sixth on the Steelers’ depth chart,Authentic Jerome Bettis Jersey, though he served as the team’s kick returner against Cleveland in the season opener, returning one kick for four yards. He caught his first pass and scored his first touchdown on a 4-yard toss from quarterback Ben Roethisberger against Minnesota in Week 2. The 20-year-old became the youngest NFL player to reach the end zone since 1964, and the second youngest ever to catch a touchdown pass.

who became the first player in the NFL to score three touchdowns prior to reaching his 21st birthday when he reeled in a 31-yard pass for a score in Week 7,Smith-Schuster,Womens Jack Lambert Jersey, Smith-Schuster made his first start of the season and had seven receptions for 193 yards, had a breakout game against Detroit in Week 8. Versus the Lions, including a 97-yard touchdown reception. The 97-yard passing play was was the longest in franchise history.

he became the last current player to earn the right to drive when he passed his driver’s test on Nov. 7. Schuster-Smith made news a couple weeks ago when he reported that someone stole his bike that he rode to practice. He did eventually get the bike back.,This week the script flipped for the youngster. Instead of being the first of something

which was later revealed to be a broken fibula.,One of the worst pieces of news out of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 20-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10 was about cornerback Joe Haden. He left the game early with a leg injury

so there is a possibility he could remain on the roster and be available for the playoffs.,He’ll be out indefinitely and the next step is to see if the injury requires surgery. The fibula isn’t the weight-bearing bone of the lower leg

However, if the injury is too severe he will head to injured reserve, and the spotlight will fall firmly on Coty Sensabaugh and Cam Sutton, who will get pushed into action very quickly.

Pro Football Talk is reporting that the injury to Haden is not as bad as assumed initially and will not require surgery. He could be back in a few weeks.

The Titans ride a four-game winning streak into Thursday night, following their 24-20 victory over Cincinnati last week. Tennessee led the Bengals early 7-0 and 14-6, fell down 20-17 in the fourth quarter but immediately drove 73 yards and won the game on a short Marcus Mariota-to-DeMarco Murray touchdown connection with 30 seconds left.

On the afternoon, the Titans outgained Cincinnati 416-308, outrushed the Bengals 180-53 and dominated time of possession by a 40-20 margin. But two Tennessee turnovers basically cost them 14 points, which helped keep Cincy in the game.

For the season, the Titans are outrushing opponents by a per-game average of 125-92. And at 6-3 overall, Tennessee would be the No. 4 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today.

The Steelers also own a four-game winning streak, after rallying to beat Indianapolis last week 20-17. Pittsburgh fell down to the Colts 10-0 in the second quarter and trailed 17-3 midway through the third. But the Steelers then ended the game with a 17-0 run, winning it on a short Chris Boswell field goal at the buzzer.

On the day, Pittsburgh only came up with 310 yards of offense but held Indianapolis to 267. So the Steelers have outgained five of their last six opponents, and they have outrushed their last four foes in a row.

At 7-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play, Pittsburgh would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today. On top of that, the Steelers get five of their final seven games at home.

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