Steelers Versus Bengals: Seven Things To Watch For In Week 2

The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night on the road and below are seven things to watch for in the game.

Will He Help? – Fullback Will Johnson should be back on the field this week after not playing last week due to an injured hamstring. The Steelers like to use a lot of 21 and 22 personnel on offense and they were not able to do that last Sunday thanks to his absence. If things go well Monday night, Johnson will play roughly 20 or so snaps and he can help out not only in the run game as a lead blocker, but also in the passing game as a receiver out of the backfield.

Two Tight – The Bengals love to use their 12 personnel grouping on offense that features perhaps the best tight end tandem in the league in the form of Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert. Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden loves to move Eifert around all over the place in order to create matchup mismatches. The Steelers will likely use rookie safety Shamarko Thomas in their main sub package to help defend on passing downs and it won’t be surprising to see a dime back used in addition on obvious passing downs. If these two tight ends combine to catch 10 balls in this game, the Steelers will more than likely lose.

Atkins Diet – Steelers right guard David DeCastro will get his second crack at Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who pretty much owned him late last season in the Week 16 game. If DeCastro wants to be an elite guard in this league, he must keep Atkins out the Steelers backfield and off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at all cost.

Green With Envy – Cornerback Ike Taylor is not going to shut out wide receiver A.J. Green Monday night, but as long as he can keep the Bengals premier offensive player somewhat in check and not allow explosive plays, it will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game. The Steelers must give Taylor help over the top in the form of a safety in this game.

Fernando The Great – New Steelers center Fernando Velasco will likely make the start Monday night against a team he played well against during the preseason. In that game, the former Tennessee Titans center kept Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko in check. Velasco should get help from left guard Ramon Foster with the line calls in this game, so that means all he has to worry about is executing.

Rey Of Hope – Against the Chicago Bears in Week 1, the Bengals defense allowed 4.5 yards per rush on eight plays run off right guard. In addition, they allowed and average of 7 yards per pass play that went to the short right side of the field and the Bears completed 62.5% of those passes. Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga is the weakest link in the Bengals defense and the Steelers offense must find a way to exploit him both on the ground and through the air.

Work Up To The Deep End – If the offense can show any semblance of a running game early on, it will open up play-action for Roethlisberger, which will allow him to take a few shots deep down the field for explosive plays. Last week against the Bears, quarterback Jay Cutler was 5-of-6 passing on his throws that traveled 14 or more yards past the line of scrimmage and 2-of-2 on passes thrown 20 yards or more down the field.

  • srdan

    Please someone tell me that I am stupid, but I have cautious optimism heading into this match up.
    We are not a 15-1 team (believe it or not), but hte product on the field last week wasn’t even a 1-15 team. I believe we are somewhere in the middle of that. On the other hand, I think the Bungles are a tad overrated, especially behind the center. I think we often forget how good of a match up we are for the Bungles. Their offense revolves around AJ, and Ike does as well as any corner in the league on him. The 21 personnel is a bit concerning, but Timm, 43 and Shamarko are good cover guys. We just need pressure, and with this D line, I think we finally have it for the first time since Kemo and Aaron were playing together. Yes Kemo!

    It’s early and I’m hung over.

    I like our chances!

  • dgh57

    Ah, but of those seven things how many do we win?

    Having W. Johnson and Velasko in this game, at least gives me a little bit of hope that it may be tilted more in our favor!

  • chris ward

    Having Will Johnson back is huge to the Offense. Hope to see a lot of 21 personnel tonight.

  • steeltown

    Velasco and DeCastro will be big factors in the outcome of this game.

    I will be interested to see what the running game produces.. Redman looked like garbage last week, probably the worst I’ve ever seen from him. I suspect he’ll get the carries early, but how long before Dwyer and Felix are in the game….

    In the end, I just hope for an all around improved game and effort.. and NO MORE major injuries please!

  • Mkeller

    I’ll be watching one thing. If they try to establish the run and fail will they swallow their pride (Tomlin/Haley) and spread’em out and throw the ball? The goal is to win the game not establish an identity rooted in circa 1980 offensive philosophy. Work on the running game in practice. You’re there to win the game. When the bullets are flying be a coach and adapt and find a way. If the run game gets going then forget I said any of this.

  • dgh57

    Yes, Redman looked like garbage given a O-Line that played like garbage. Not sure Adrian Peterson would of done much better behind our line last week.

  • JohnB

    The biggest thing i want to see, and this pretty much goes without saying, but how they respond to the loss last week. If we come out FLAT, we’re in trouble. We cant start 0-2

  • Mkeller

    No style points in AFC North games. I just hope they score 1 more than Cincy.

  • steeltown

    I bet AP wouldn’t have fumbled that ball on the goal line.. why, because he would’ve went through preseason receiving multiple handoffs from Ben, establishing familiarity and getting comfortable in-game regardless of whether a hand off was a bit high or not..I attribute half of Redman’s woes to the OLine and the other half to him getting only two meaningful carries before the regular season

  • dgh57

    I’ll agree with that in that the preseason is partly used to get the timing down for the overall offense as a whole and some kind of rhythm between a RB and QB. Tomlin of all people should know that!

  • bpeoples

    or 21 more…

  • steeltown

    I’ll never understand his, “we know what he’s capable of” comment.. umm Tomlin, after last season, I would think that these RBs have to prove something before being handed the keys

  • T R

    This the game the Steelers win..This game is ours…

  • dgh57

    Agreed. I was going to say a comment like that should be reserved for elite RBs but then even they need to work on their timing & rhythm with their QB!

  • AndyR34

    And what do you think they were doing during OTA’s, mini-camp, summer camp drills, 11 on 11, and 7 on 7…playing checkers?

  • dgh57

    No they were playing Chess!!

    There’s a BIG difference between OTAs and so on and actual game action when it comes to getting your timing down and some kind of a rhythm with your QB!

  • steeltown

    Playing against their own Team in Latrobe PA, not in a stadium against an opposing Defense