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Steelers will provide new challenges for tackles McNeill, Clary

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Wednesday, January 7, 2009
    By Bill Center

    For the second straight week, the Chargers' offensive tackles will be opposite one of the NFL's top sets of pass-rushers.

    But Marcus McNeill and Jeromey Clary say the task they face Sunday in Pittsburgh is not quite the same as the one they dealt with Saturday night against Indianapolis.

    “The speed of the Colt and Steeler rushers is similar,” McNeill said Wednesday. “But the styles of the players and the defenses are different.”

    Against Indianapolis, the task for Clary and McNeill was keeping defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis off quarterback Philip Rivers.

    But the Colts run a conventional 4-3 defense. The Steelers, like the Chargers, run a 3-4.

    Pittsburgh's top pass-rushers are outside linebackers James Harrison, who also happens to be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, and LaMarr Woodley.

    This season, no set of NFL defensive ends had more sacks than Freeney and Mathis – and no set of NFL outside linebackers had more sacks than Harrison and Woodley.

    “It's a big change,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said. “The Steelers are very creative with what they do. It's not like last week where the Colts line up and the guy's rushing every single time (and) you have to block him.

    “Pittsburgh does a lot of different things, and it's demanding in terms of our preparation.”

    Although Freeney and Mathis each sacked Rivers twice last week, Turner gave his tackles overall high marks for their play against the Colts.

    “Speaking of Freeney and Mathis, those two guys were playing at their best,” Turner said. “I thought our tackles did a great job. We had a couple bad plays. I believe in those guys.”

    The question is, can they do it again against a different look?

    McNeill believes the fact the Chargers also run a 3-4 defense helps them prepare for the Steelers.

    “We see nothing but the 3-4 the first five weeks we're in camp,” McNeill said. “That's one advantage we have.”

    But the Steelers' 3-4 is not the same as the Chargers'. Pittsburgh, which leads the NFL in pass defense and total defense (and ranks second against the run), uses multiple looks and schemes – including zone blitzes.

    “The Steelers play off their ability for everyone to play around the field,”
    McNeill said. “Harrison might be blitzing. He might drop off into coverage. He does a lot of different things.

    “He's a great defensive player. I'm going to have my hands full all game. He covers as well as he rushes passer. He's fast and strong. I even had to tackle him one time last game when he came on a blitz. I don't want to have to do that again.”

    Plus, Harrison and Woodley won't be the only Steelers blitzing. The surge could come from the inside linebackers and safeties.

    McNeill counted 16 zone blitzes by the Steelers when the teams met Nov. 16.

    “You have to see and know what's happening when it happens,” McNeill said of the zone blitz. “The biggest breakdown comes when you miss a lineman and a linebacker sneaks through on a missed assignment.

    “The key is picking it up.”
    Said Turner: “We'll give them help when we can. But they have to hold their own.”

    The difference from a week ago isn't just the scheme. The outside rushers are different.

    “Freeney and Mathis were their own animals,” Clary said. “They were strictly speed. Harrison and Woodley are different. Harrison is short, stocky and fast. Woodley is big and fast. But it's not strictly speed with them.”

    Said McNeill: “The Colts ends were elusive and rely on speed. The Steelers are that and physical. And they're not always coming. Sometimes, they drop off and you have to pick up another rusher.

    “This is about all five of us in the line because there are going to be a lot of different things for us to deal with. It goes with playing the Steelers.”

    With a cold day forecast, McNeill is hoping to face the Steelers defense a lot.

    “I'd rather stay on the field blocking than be the sidelines,” McNeill said. “Last year after New England, I defrosted for three days. And our sideline heaters never work.

    “If we control the clock and keep our defense off the field, I stay warm in the game and they stay cold.”
  2. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    We just have to trust the game plan. Worked for the last five games, and we fought Pittsburg to a virtual stand still once before.
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Exactly. Our OL is, once again, the key to this win. We grind one out in Pittsburgh, head back home for the AFCCG. :tup:

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