T.J. Watt Says Steelers Flipped OLBs To Attack Bengals’ Tackle Rotation

The Cincinnati Bengals have been using their uncertainty at their offensive tackles positions as an opportunity to use a rotation of players, using reserve Andre Smith—formerly a five-year starter at right tackle—at both spots for long stretches in place of Cedric Ogbuehi on the left side and Jake Fisher on the right.

The Pittsburgh Steelers did a bit of countering, occasionally flipping their outside linebackers, Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt to the opposite side. While this is not completely out of left field for them—they have done is previously this season—it was apparently intentional in response to the Bengals’ tackle-flipping.

Asked after the game on Sunday about the rotation of the outside linebackers, the rookie Watt said, “we knew that they had a three-man rotation at tackle coming into the week. And I think we just wanted to get a piece of everybody”.

Both in their third year, former first-round pick Ogbuehi and second-rounder Fisher have yet to establish themselves as quality players at the NFL level. Each of them had a shot at taking over the right tackle position a year ago, and neither of them were able to stick, ultimately going to the bench.

“Bud and I, we can rush from both sides. So we wanted to switch it up a bit to kind of break up the monotony of going against the same side every single time”, Watt continued in his response to the aforementioned question.

And, he added, “I think it really helped and just kind of gave the guy the perspective of what’s on the other side”. He said that the defensive coaches and edge-rushers “definitely have pitches that we can throw on the left or right side”.

Though both Watt and Dupree each recorded a sack against the Bengals on their ‘native’ sides—Watt on the right and Dupree on the left—perhaps it is notable that both of them were created off of inside stunts, rather than going the long way around the tackle.

Both of the outside linebackers also had other shots at the quarterback that they failed to take full advantage of, a fact of which Watt is fully aware. “We are going to be kicking ourselves tomorrow when we watch film because we were so close so many times”, he said. “But, at the end of the day, we got the job done. We got to him enough”.

The Steelers were able to sack Andy Dalton four times in the second half on Sunday as they held the Bengals scoreless over the third and fourth quarters. Cameron Heyward and Tyson Alualu were credited with the other two sacks, though the latter was set up by initial pressure from Dupree.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Chad Weiss

    This defense has me so excited. We added watt who at this point has been phenomenal at this point of his career,Hilton who looks like our best CB and btw we added Haden who is playing at a pro bowl level,and started Vince Williams that’s four new starters that you could argue are playing at a pro bowl level. Add that to Heyward,Tuitt,Shazier and then last year’s pick three in their second year. We got guys like alu alu ,gay,wilcox,chickillo,harrison,all playing roles. This defense is absolutely stacked. Loving it!!!!

  • Bryant Eng

    Last night the Redskins effectively created pressure lining Ryan Kerrigan up inside over the left guard. I would like the Steelers to try this with Bud Dupree, who strikes me as being a little larger than Watt at this stage. Tuitt or Heyward could line up outside- they are talented enough to do it. Thoughts Matt?

  • 2020_Vision

    Watt is a awesome addition to this defense. If he and Dupree can continue to put pressure on the quarterback, this defense is going to get better. Scary Thought!!!!!

  • David Shoff

    I am completely in favor of switching watt and Dupree at times. I have a feeling that Dupree might be more effective as a pass rusher from the right side, and I’ll bet that watt can do it equally as well from the left. If they can easily switch, then is worth a try, because Dupree isn’t very good rushing from the left.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Another commenter and I had noticed this and pointed it out during the broadcast and comment thread. I’m not sure why, but it apparently stuck out to both of us at the exact same time. Lol. I hadn’t really noticed them do it before, but I do like the idea of them having “position” flexibility within their own positions. That way, if we ever do need to bring Harrison in for an extended time, it won’t be a problem having to always stick someone on the opposite side. I do like the depth that we currently have with our OLB’s. Would that preclude me from saying we should potentially add to the unit again come the ’18 draft? No. But for this current SB run, we are in pretty good shape. Which is welcoming to say the very least.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I’m not sure how I feel about that, especially in terms of his gap integrity against the run. It could work, I’m sure, though I don’t know if it’s necessary. I think he might be more effective generating pressure on inside stunts than just starting out lining up inside. But if they wanted to experiment with it I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with it. They line him up over the middle sometimes of course, but not at the line or with his hand on the ground, but rather off the ball.

  • Steve

    Off subject, we really need an elite TE in the next draft, if one is available. This is the one position on the team, that is still lacking.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Agreed. I wrote a comment about that just recently. It would really help Ben and take this Offense to that sought-after level.

  • Steve

    Yes Sir. Ben and the team has been missing the TE since Heath left. Many here were advocates for Jessie James. Had seen him play and knew he was not what we needed. Steelers drafted him, so we will work what we have, but he will never make a Pro Bowl level player and I don’t think McDonald is our answer either.

  • dany

    Why though? What makes you think Dupree is better on the right? I get why Watt could do as well on the left side but I haven’t seen much from Dupree that tells me he shouldn’t be stuck in one spot