The Eagles need to figure out how to handle Ben Roethlisberger on third down.
Through three games, Roethlisberger is 27-of-36 for 354 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions on third down, good for a 145.1 quarterback rating. One of the big reasons behind his success is the ability to extend the play with his legs.
“It’s hard, especially when you’ve got guys like that out there that are shifty, you’ve just got to read them down and stay on them,” said Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “Make sure you press and keep your eyes on him because you know they’re going to move with him. We’ve been working on that a little bit in practice; the scramble drill and just staying with him.”
The Steelers may be 1-2 but that has nothing to do with their quarterback play. The 30-year-old Roethlisberger has started the year on fire, throwing eight touchdowns to one interception for a 109.2 QB rating.
“He’s a competitor, he’s tough,” said Juan Castillo. “You can see the way he plays ball. He loves competition. The thing we have to take care of, and I think we saw it the first series [in the preseason], he was able to extend plays. We had a third-and-nine and third-and-11 and he broke out of the pocket and was able to extend plays and was able to throw the ball. Once he got it down and it was fourth-and-one and the other one made the first down. That’s what we have to be able to take care of.”
While Roethlisberger is firing on all cylinders, the Steelers running attack is dead last in the NFL, having accrued just 195 yards through three games for an average of 2.6 yards per carry. Rashard Mendenhall is expected to play, which should help the Steelers ground attack. But the focus will remain on Roethlisberger.
“You cannot come off the wide receiver until the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage. And then you avoid the big plays. He may scramble, and he may get eight or nine or five or ten [yards], but if you come off your guy that could be a touchdown,” said Castillo.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Nnamdi Asomugha seems to be getting it from all sides. Seth Joyner is the latest to chime in.
Meanwhile, Kurt Coleman is very bullish about the defense. He thinks it can be the greatest of all time.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Steelers have seven starters on defense with nine-plus years in the NFL under their belt. There is a lot of wear and tear on those bodies, and Pittsburgh will be using a rotation to try and keep some veterans fresh. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The Steelers told [James] Harrison he will be spelled in the first half by Chris Carter, who has been starting at right outside linebacker since minicamp. The coaches want to be sure Harrison is fresh for the fourth quarter.
“I have to come off,” Harrison said. “It’s no need being out there, being dog-tired, and not be able to do what’s necessary to play the position. You want to stay fresh. You don’t want to go out there and play every snap in the first half and come out sluggish in the third and have nothing left in the fourth.”
The Steelers have a similar plan for [Lamarr] Woodley, who has three of the team’s five sacks.
ESPN’s NFC East blog tackles the fact that the Eagles play four teams coming off a bye this season.
We went to the Elias Sports Bureau and found that, since the current divisional format began in 2002, teams that are not coming off bye weeks and playing against teams that are have a record of 123-156-1 (.441 winning percentage). That is obviously somewhat discouraging if you’re an Eagles fan looking ahead to this middle portion of the schedule. I mean, look, it’s going to be tough. You can’t look at it and say it doesn’t put them at something of a disadvantage. But as I keep telling my 6-year-old, life isn’t fair. It’s how we handle our challenges that determines our character.
Eagles at Steelers, 1 o’clock. I’m live from Pittsburgh. Sheil, the new papa, is expected to make his triumphant return today. We’ll be chatting live during the game.