Blog of the week 8: Want to create splashes
Disciplined Rush: If the Steelers defense is going to be successful this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, it will have to contain the man in charge of the offense, quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Hurts is having his best season ever, leading the Eagles to a 6-0 record to start the season while completing 123 of 184 pass attempts for 1,514 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions. Its threat begins right there, however. He also ran the ball 77 times this season for 293 yards and six touchdowns.
“His mobility is definitely a factor,” linebacker Alex Highsmith said. “We have to keep it in the pocket. When you play guys like him, Lamar (Jackson), Josh Allen, guys who can move like that, it’s an extra challenge. You can’t just rush in and you rushing all over the square because he will find escape routes and stuff like that. You really have to be able to disciplined rushing and compressing the pocket when playing guys like him who are able to move.
“If you run too high around him he can step in. If you come in too soon he can back up and get out. We just have to communicate. When we’re at our best, that’s when we communicate. I think he is important for us to continue to communicate and have a disciplined contingency plan.”
The Eagles are the best in the NFL in turnover rate, and a big part of that is Hurts’ ability to protect the ball, make smart decisions and not get thrown around. The goal this week is to create havoc for him to make those mistakes.
“They’re an effective offense,” Highsmith said. “He’s got the ball. They’ve got the ball. We have to be able to cause havoc and force them to make bad decisions by doing that. It starts with winning on first and second down. We have to stop racing at that time and, when the time comes, chasing it down the pass.”
Highsmith, who continues to lead the NFL with 6.5 sacks, knows the defense has to do its best to get what it wants against the Eagles. He sees the progress made by the defense and is well aware that they have the talent to do so.
“We know what type of group we can be up front,” Highsmith said. “This week we just have to take advantage of them when we have opportunities. When they don’t do it quickly, we have to take advantage of them and be able to finish those games.
“As a group, we have to keep improving every day. We know the kind of group we can be. We have to keep improving. When the QB has the ball, we have to take the opportunity to get up to ‘to him.’
Last week, the defense limited the Miami Dolphins to just 16 points, but the team remained coy. This week, Highsmith would like to stop the attack and limit the points even more.
“We know that at the end of the day, if there are points on the board, we can always do better,” Highsmith said. “We kept them at 16 points, but we can still be better. It’s just something we have to keep doing better. We finished the game strong, but we started so slow in the Miami game. It’s something we have to get out and start fast. When you start fast, you also have to finish fast.
“We went out and did a good job. At the end of the day, there were more points on the board than we wanted, so there is room for improvement, and always room for improvement. improve. But I think we’ve improved the last two games from that Buffalo game. We know the guys we have.
“We know the kind of defense we can be. It starts with training every week. We have to keep working on it.”