Howdy All! Bliztburg over at Behind the Steel Curtain recently answered a few questions about the Steelers and their Monday Night Matchup against our Jaguars. Here's his words.
River City Rage : Thanks for taking the time for an Interview, let's get to the questions. First off, what do you think distinguishes this Steelers team from last years?
Behind the Steel Curtain: Well, lots of people incorrectly assume that we're going to be worse off this year with the departures of Chris Hope, Kemo von Oelhoffen, and especially Antwaan Randle-El. Sure we miss Antwaan, but we actually have more depth at the WR position this year. On the defensive side of the ball, we got younger and faster. DE Brett Keisel is an upgrade over an aging Von Oelhoffen, and the Steelers drafted a talented SS named Anthony Smith who didn't take long to impress. We also acquired safety Ryan Clark from Washington through free agency. Basically, I think our offense is faster and more explosive with Willie Parker as the #1 feature back, and I think our defense is even better than a year ago.
River City Rage :Jacksonville sees this game as a rivalry game with a little old AFC Central History. People tell me that to Pittsburg, this is just another game and the Jags just another team. What are your thoughts on the history with these teams?
Behind the Steel Curtain : There certainly have been some close battles over the years between the Steelers and the Jaguars. In 2002, we were able to escape with a 25-23 win after a failed two point conversion attempt. In 2004, the Steelers won another nail biter 17-16 on a late Jeff Reed FG. Considering how short a time Jacksonville has been in the league, these two teams have sure had a number of thrillers. That said, Jacksonville is still the young pup on the block in the eyes of most Steeler fans. If there continues to be such great contests between both clubs over the next several decades, that will gradually change.
River City Rage: Which Jaguars do you think will give you the most trouble?
Behind the Steel Curtain: Well, I am concerned with the Jaguars front seven, even with Reggie Hayward out. The Linebacking corps are all sure tacklers, and there seems to be an awful lot of depth on the defensive line. On the offensive side of the football, Matt Jones gives me nightmares. There's really no way to stop him if the ball is delivered accurately and on time. I also really love the competitive spirit of Byron Leftwich. He's never going to give up on a play, a drive, or a game, so the Jaguars never seem out of a football game until the last whistle blows.
River City Rage: Tell us about a Steeler that we might not hear about that's a key to your success?
Behind the Steel Curtain : Casey Hampton. The guy is an absolute monster. So long as he's healthy and clogging up the middle, opposing offenses will continue to have a difficult time running the ball against the Steelers. That let's our defensive coordinator get creative in his blitz packages.
River City Rage: If Bill Cowher's jaw arrives in Jacksonville at 5:00, what time does the rest of the team get there?
Behind the Steel Curtain : Haha. Shortly there after. We go as Coach Cowher's jaw goes.
River City Rage : All right, time for your prediction. What sort of game do you think we'll have and who'll win?
Behind the Steel Curtain :I think we'll have a low scoring affair. Unfortunately for Jaguars fans, I don't see the Steelers turning the ball over like the Cowboys did, and I don't think the Jags are going to be able to orchestrate too many long drives. Roethlisberger will probably struggle a bit as well in his first game back, but I still think the Steelers will leave Jacksonville 2-0 with a 20-16 win.
Thanks again for the visit and here's to a good game!. Be sure to check out Behind the Steel Curtain all week long for great pre-game analysis.