What other options do they have? Here’s a look at other ways the Steelers might try to make up for the loss of Defensive Player of the Year.
Reed’s acquisition was widely acclaimed as a good deep move. The concern, however, is that the somewhat smaller Reed could get worn out and damaged as the games — and Watt’s extended IR time — go on.
Reed weighs in at 235 pounds and is listed at 6 feet 2. He might be an inch or two shorter than that. Watt is about three inches long and about 20 pounds heavier. Reed has 15 sacks in 34 career starts. His passing skills are good. But Watt will be missed in the race.
Don’t be surprised if teams (especially the New England Patriots this week) stress a quick, straight attack on Reid on the left side of the Steelers defense. Not only will he take advantage of Watt’s absence – and Reed’s presence – but he will also be walking away from Cameron Heyward’s squad. This is not a bad idea.
One thing the Steelers might want to consider is flipping Reed and Alex Highsmith on occasion so that opposing offenses don’t just sit around and target one side of the field in a non-stop dash and slip all the pass protection toward Highsmith.
It might not be such a terrible idea, every now and then, to bring an OLB Jamir Jones backup into the game and attack Reed from the inside sometimes.
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Next in line
If the Steelers are concerned about Reed against the race, they don’t show it.
“I think he was solid when he had to go in there. He got off in two runs chasing things,” defensive coordinator Terrell Austin said of Reed’s performance on Sunday. “He gave you some decent rush, some decent pressure off the edge. It’s not TJ, but it was good for the first time. I’m looking for him to be better now because he’ll have more actors under his belt.”
If the Steelers want to try a bigger body or just a change of pace to keep Reed and Highsmith fresh, we might see more Jones.
It was a beloved bootcamp at St. Vincent College in 2021. As a rookie free agent, Jones had four quarterback sacks in four games and led the NFL with six QB strokes and a total of 13 QB presses. In addition, he topped the Steelers’ list with six specials, and earned a spot on the 53-man roster.
But it was waived at the end of September and claimed by the Los Angeles Rams. It remained on their list until Christmas and was then chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars until August of this year. The Steelers called him for the second time on September 1.
“We had a really good experience with him last time,” coach Mike Tomlin said of Jones. “We’ve had a chance to reconnect, and we usually repeat business if our relationship is good. He’s one of those guys. He’s been back here a second time, and they usually come back here a second time because they have some things that we appreciate, not just in terms of talent, but in terms of talent.” A business approach that aligns with our motto.”
Jones is slightly larger than Reed (6 feet-3, 255 lbs). So he may be braver against running. But Jones hasn’t scored an NFL sack yet.
Hear me on this.
Rookie DeMarvin Leal had 17 shots on his debut last week in Cincinnati. Austin seemed relatively impressed with what he saw.
“I think he did a really good job of a guy in his first game going in there,” Austin said. “I think he was nervous in the first game, but as Mike (Tomlin) said (about fellow rookie Jaylene Warren), he didn’t go there and what was that?”
Um, I think the quote was”peeing on his leg,” Fitness Trainer.
“Yeah, that didn’t happen. That’s on both sides of the ball. We have dry panties,” Austin said.
Well, this is a start.
Leal has always been described as a tweener coming out of college. He was better known for being a hasty than anything else at Texas A&M. He had 8.5 sacks and 12.5 loss interventions in his first year. At 290 pounds, the Leal can give you more beef in the outside left-back and occasionally stand on the edge.
Not for the full game. But maybe a play or two? One drive or two? Just for a test look? I think it’s worth a try.
If the Steelers find themselves needing to generate more of a passing rush without watts, one way to do that might be to fire up more quests.
Although the Steelers had seven sacks against the Bengals last week, they were able to do so without getting attacked too often. according to Pro Football referenceThe Steelers only attacked nine times. That’s 13% of the Bengals’ drop on Sunday. Only Saints, Bears, and Bills attacked less frequently in the first week.
Clearly, more attack could expose the Steelers at the back end. But it may also be due to the ineffective passing rush that does not frequently bother QB with the Defensive Player of the Year on the shelf at least for the next month.
On Friday’s “Breakfast With Benz” podcast, TribLIVE Radio and WEEI (Boston) host Ken Laird joined forces with Tim Benz for a preview of Sunday’s opening game at Acrisure Stadium against the New England Patriots.
Tim Benz is a Tribune Review writer. You can contact Tim at email@example.com or via Twitter. All tweets can be reposted. All emails are subject to posting unless otherwise stated.