Today, we’ll switch roles, with Total Titans asking the questions and Blitzburgh Blog providing the insightful responses.
Part II of this week’s Q&A exchange….after the jump.
Total Titans: Do you think that Vince Young can be effective against,in my opinion, the best defense in the league?
Blitzburgh Blog: If there is a weakness on this defense, it is the secondary, but that secondary plays well between Troy Polamalu and the Steelers’ front seven. Opposing quarterbacks are rarely given much time to throw the ball and make plays.
Young’s ability to run the ball and make plays outside of the pocket certainly improve his chances, but I would be surprised if he found a lot of success against the Steelers, especially when Matt Ryan was shut down. The only teams who have been able to move the ball well against Dick LeBeau’s defense have done it through quick, accurate passes and through 3-step drops, and for some reason Jay Cutler.
I don’t watch the Titans a ton, but Vince Young doesn’t strike me as a QB who’d be able to excel at that style like a Brees or Manning would.
TT: Just in case you didn’t know, Chris Johnson has a little streak going..something along the lines of rushing for at least 100 yards in 12 consecutive games. Can he keep the streak alive against the Steelers?
BB: Sorry Titans fans, but I’d bet against CJ this week.
The Steelers have a little streak of their own going — they’ve only allowed one 100-yard rusher (Ray Rice) in the past 35 games. The Steelers have had success against Johnson during that span too. Johnson had 57 yards on 15 carries against Pittsburgh last season and then 16 carries for 69 yards in 2008.
As we saw last week, Johnson can eat up almost 100 yards in one big run so it’s certainly possible that he’ll continue his streak on Sunday, but I’ve seen the Steelers hold lots of great running backs to less than 100 yards over the past several seasons. Johnson won’t face a more physical group of linebackers in the NFL and Troy Polamalu is probably the one safety who can come close to keeping up with Johnson.
TT: Who should we expect to see starting in place of Max Starks and Casey Hampton? How much of a downgrade will each backup be? How – if at all – do you see these injuries impacting the Steelers game plan?
BB: Jonathan Scott will start at tackle for Starks and Chris Hoke would start at NT if Hampton is out. There’s still an outside chance that Starks and Hampton will both play, but I’d be pretty surprised.
This will be Scott’s first start as a Steeler so I’m not really sure what to expect. He’s certainly a downgrade from Starks but the Steelers offensive line as a whole is mediocre so the difference might not be too noticeable. The opposite is true for Hampton’s absence. He’s one of the premier NT in the game but Hoke has had lots of experience filling in for him and there is so much talent on that side of the ball that I’m a lot more worried about Starks’ injury than Hampton’s.
I’d expect the Steelers to struggle in pass protection quite a bit on Sunday and a little in run blocking too without Starks. Neither Scott or RT Flozell Adams are very quick so the Titans defensive ends could have a field day. Hampton’s loss weakens the middle of the defense a bit but I don’t expect it to have any major effects on Sunday’s game as long as everybody else stays healthy.
TT: Will the Steelers take the training wheels off of QB Dennis Dixon this week, or will he continue to play the role of game manager against the Titans?
BB: I wouldn’t say that Dixon had the training wheels on last week at all, to be honest. With an elite defense and a solid running back, it doesn’t make sense for the Steelers to have Dixon slinging the ball all over the field.
I think the Steelers are confident than he can make a few plays with his arm during a game, but unless the Titans get more than a touchdown lead, the smart thing is to pound the football on the ground no matter who is under center. If I’m Mike Tomlin, I’m hoping the defense will hold Tennessee to around 14 points and that Rashard Mendenhall and Dixon can somehow come up with a couple touchdowns. So, in some sense, Dixon will be a “game manager” but I think that’s the smartest strategy for the Steelers to use.
TT: Prediction time! Who’s going to win…and why?
BB: I’ve been going back and forth all week. I do think the Steelers will contain Chris Johnson and hold him to around 80 yards, but I think I like Tennessee on Sunday. The Titans are going to pressure Dixon all day and take advantage of a shaky Steeler offensive line. They’ll be able to score just enough points to overcome a gutsy effort by James Harrison and company.
I like the Titans in a low-scoring game. This will be the week where the Roethlisberger-less offense burns the Steelers. Tennessee wins it 16-14.
TT: Which three Titans players would you love to see on the Steelers?
BB: Cortland Finnegan
He’s obviously a guy who is a lightning rod for controversy and he can be too aggressive at times, but he’d be great as a Steelers. He plays hard-nosed football and walks the fine line between physicality and dirtiness. That’s the kind of attitude and swagger that guys who play on great defenses always have and I’ve liked that about Finnegan, even if he can be a little crazy.
I don’t think there’s a team in the NFL who wouldn’t love to have him carrying the ball. Easy choice.
We love tight ends who not only catch balls, but actually block people on occasion *cough*Dallas Clark*coughcough* Scaife is one of the more underrated tight ends in the league and has been super consistent with catching and blocking. Scaife and Heath Miller would light teams up and lead the charge for real tight ends in the NFL.
That’s it for this week’sQ&A exchange. On behalf of Total Titans, a big thank you goes out to Blitzburgh Blog for participating.