Steelers Vs Vikings X Factor: Maurkice Pouncey

As we will do every Saturday to get you ready for the week’s game, our X Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. What will make or break the Pittsburgh Steelers as they take on the Minnesota Vikings

X Factor: Maurkice Pouncey

The Steelers run game was terrible last year and Le’Veon Bell had one of his worst rushing performances in recent memory. That was one of several reasons why the offense put up just 14 points against the Cleveland Browns. If Pittsburgh has plans on going 2-0, that has to change. But it won’t be any easier.

Like the Browns have with Danny Shelton, the Vikings have their own wide-load nose tackle – Linval Joseph. And unlike Shelton, Joseph is healthy. He probably weighs somewhere north of 340 pounds with pass rushing ability. His four sacks last season prove that. Put it this way. Over the last four years with Minnesota, he has 7.5 sacks. Casey Hampton had just nine in his entire career. Joseph is a blend of old and new money at the position.

But it’s all about the run game. And while handling the nose tackle comes down to both guards and the center, Pouncey will see big #98 the most often. Controlling him is key to controlling the run game. Pouncey, as good as he is (and I believe legit Hall of Fame talent), does have trouble with the biggest, stoutest guys up front. Even a less-than 100% Shelton gave him some trouble last week.

Whether it’s being able to reach him when he’s shaded or get movement on base blocks/double teams, it’ll be a tough task. And in the passing game, you don’t want Joseph being able to collapse the pocket. With the threat the Vikes have at defensive end, Ben Roethlisberger may need to be stepping up quite often.

Get Bell back on track. Get the run game back on track. That means moving Joseph off his tracks if the Steelers want to avoid being as one-dimensional as they were last week.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Craig M

    And maybe that means having Nix in the backfield to help out w/ the blocking assignments and giving more wrinkles to the strategy.

  • Ichabod

    It seems to me that Pouncey has trouble with opponents like this. Hope he overcomes or gets help from others. I think this will be a tough game for the offense

  • VaDave

    So does DeCastro. Look for Joseph to be right in the gap between Pouncey and DeCastro, and get ready for a long day.

  • John Phillips

    Spot on, but I hope wer’re wrong.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    They’re both lacking a bit in the beef department for their size. Pounce has his work cut out for him. If it’s hot out, that might be enough to get Joseph gassed later in the game.

  • gentry_gee

    Pouncey’s stock is dropping in my eyes. I’m afraid he’s overrated. He got completely destroyed and owned in the playoff game in New England. I’m sure coaches and management saw it. He can be gotten to. Franchise needs to watch this position very closely.

  • Ichabod

    Dave what part of Va are you from?

  • VaDave

    I’m originally from the Burgh, but have been in the greater Richmond area for the last 20years

  • Ichabod

    Born and raised in Penn Hills myself. Lived there 28 yrs. Been in King William for past 27

  • VaDave

    My aunt had a travel agency on frankstown road, and lived in Verona. I lived in North Hills, about 8 miles north of the Stadiums on I-279. Right now I live about in the middle of Chesterfield County.

  • Ichabod

    Mailing address was Verona (the town with a bar or two every block) but lived in hunter rd/hamill rd area

    Game time. Go Steelers