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2020 Week #7 GDT Steelers at Titans

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Week # 7 Steelers  visit Titans  (Game billed as the "Somebody's 0 Has Got To Go!")

Additions are added in blue: Didn't do a complete other GDT. Added to this one and completed 10/20/20 @10:00 am


Steelers lead the series history all time 46-32-0 including (Houston Oilers). Since moving to Tennessee the series is lead by the Titans 13 - 9, but the Steelers have won 6 of the last 9 including two in a row. Last Meeting won by Steelers 40 -17 in Pittsburgh in 2017. Big Ben threw for 299 yards and four TD's in a dominant win. Steelers seem to have matched up well with the Titans their last few meetings and in pre-season as well. Each year is different and games can hinge on the balance of missed plays, missed opportunities not captured, turnovers, and untimely and inconsistent penalties. You have to play clean football in this type of match-up to win.


Key Players on Titans Offense:  QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derek Henry, WR Corey Davis, WR AJ Brown, OL Taylor Lewaan, Roger Saffold. 

Five Defensive Keys to a Steelers win in Tennessee:

1. Stop Derrick Henry. Steelers run defense has been better than advertised. This battle could very well be won in the trenches.  The Steelers defense absolutely stuffed the the NY Giants rushing attack, hut down the Bronco's rushing in the second half of their game and did an excellent job against David Johnson.  They have an absolute beast of a running back and are facing a very good offensive line. Honestly, I would put the emphasis on Ryan Tannehill trying to beat the Steelers rather than allowing Henry to run like a mad mad all over the field. No change here except, I am a little more nervous as Tannehill looks he is more than capable of beating any team with his arm, legs and decision making. He is playing football at a very high level. You can't miss or overlook a RB who runs for 200+ yards and has a 94 yard TD run!😲


2. Steelers secondary needs to get its swag back! Through the past two weeks the so called weak link of the secondary has played better (Terrell Edmunds). After making a big sack against Denver, he played probably his best all around game as a Steeler against Denver. I need the big guns to step up: FS Minkah Fitzpatrick, and CB's Joe Haden and Steve Nelson. They have been beat in man and in zone. It is time to get your swag back fellows.  Interestingly enough, I feel like Edmunds is DB with the most swag right now. If he can clean up some pass coverage, he can help take this secondary to the next level as the other components improve their game and swagger! A few weeks later and Minkah, Joe and Steve have all played their best game against Cleveland after a bad performance against the Eagles. The Titans are balanced and have a variety of targets for Ryan to throw at including Brown, Humpries and TE Adam Firsker coming off his best game this year 8 catches 113 yards and 1 TD.  The secondary will need to be up to the task again. One game does not a good season, make, but hopefully the Steelers secondary can gain some momentum and swag after a strong performance against Baker Mayfield and the Browns very good trio of O'dell, Jarvis and Austin.


3. Getting off the field on third downs. This has been a bit of problem for the Steelers defense through two and a half games. They did a much better job the second half against Houston, but all three opposing QB's had success at various times in the game with converting third downs. This could be a killer as Henry can then go to work behind a solid OL wearing down the Steelers defense and opening passing lanes to get the ball to Davis, Brown or Humphries. An are that the Steelers will have to build off of after holding the Browns 1 for 12 on third down conversions and 0 for 3 on fourth downs. They will need another monster effort like this to keep the Titans offense off the field and allowing the receivers to extend drives and thus allow Derrick Henry to wear down the Steelers defense.


4. Pressure on Tannehill.  TJ Watt is playing at an MVP caliber level thus far. Bud looked like he could get an MVP vote or two the first few weeks, but leveled off some going against a very good LT in Tunsil last week. It wont get any easier for Bud if Taylor Lewaan is healthy and can play. Taylor is one big, mean, aggressive LT. He is equally adept at run blocking and pass blocking. If not Bud gets former Bronco #2 draft pick. Ty Sambrailo. This may be a major key to victory as the Steelers have struggled in the pass defense. This is a game that I would try to force Tannehill to beat me. Shut down Henry and pressure Ryan.  Tuitt and Cam have done a very good job of getting a push up the middle as well. No QB likes constant pressure and harassment. Tannehill has been solid since last season, so try to force a fumble or errant throw to get their offense off the field or to force a turnover. Much the same with Taylor perhaps being more seriously injured for a prolonged time coming into the rematch. This time Bud is coming off a monster game and TJ played solid, but missed a few sack opportunities at a slippery Baker Mayfield. The Steelers need gang tackling early and a solid pass rush to contain the Titans offense who have been putting up points and racking up yardage in the air and on the ground. Credit the Titans OL.  Hopefully the Steelers continue to play hard or this OL despite maybe missing their best OL's can beat up on them and spring Henry and open the passing lanes. 


5. Defensive Adjustments - - The defensive coaches have improved in this area over the past few years. Through the first three games, the Steelers have played better in the second half defensively save a 19 play drive by the Giants that was aided by penalties, but did end in a INT. They got some help from the offense and forced three and out on three of the Texans four second half drives with the other ending in a Mike Hilton INT. Titans HC Mike Vrabel is a former Steeler and Patriot. He certainly learned some things to do to the Steelers defense and offense having played defense for the Patriots and coaching under Bill Belichick. The Steelers defensive coaches will need to make necessary adjustments as well.  The Steelers defense played its best overall game of the year against the Browns. They still had some missed assignments and some snafu's in coverage with allowing the TE to go Uncovered on two plays.  The game plan usually has not been the problem, but the consistency in executing it has. The Steelers will need another solid outing from the defense. This time they have to do it without any home cooking. I am also curious to see how the defense is up the middle with the loss for the season of Devon Bush.  Spillane, Allen and Grant may fill the role while rotating perhaps additional snaps from Vince Williams. Spillane was a unheralded star filling in against the Browns in the second half, but he will have a bigger test this week with Derek Henry and an equally imposing and physical OL. Can Bud put together two big games? I expect TJ to bounce back from a decent, but not TJ Watt type of game.



Five Offensive Keys to a Win in Tennessee


Malcolm Butler has been a bit of a Steelers killer over the years getting his hands on INT's and doing a good job of covering and shutting down the overall effectiveness of the passing attack.

Key Players on the Titans Defense: CB Malcolm Butler, FS Kevin Byard, SS Kenny Vaccaro, ILB Rashaan Evans, OLB Jadeveon Clowney  

1. Start fast on offense. In the immortal words of Morris Day, "What Time is It?" Time for the Steelers offense to start fast.  You cannot sleepwalk on offense week in and week out. This will catch up to you especially against good teams. The Steelers will be playing on the road and starting fast may be the key to knocking the Titans out of their game plan and forcing them to more favorable match-ups for the Steelers offense and defense. Steelers offense has yet to score a TD on an opening drive. They got two FG's the last two games and did a great job of converting key third downs to sustain the drive, but not finish. This could be a difference in a road game. Playing at home, they got a little momentum in coming around. On the road, despite traveling well as fans, with a reduction in attendance due to Covid-19, you have to get an edge wherever you can.  Starting fast against the Titans would definitely bode well for the Steelers offense. The Titans used a fast start to beat down the tough Bills. Steelers have to hold onto the football and eliminate untimely penalties.


2. Be patient on offense. The Steelers offense has a tendency to get off of their plan and at times go into panic mode. This almost proved disastrous last week versus the Texans. The Steelers offense played the second half they way that they should have played the entire game. Deep passes, big plays, and long runs will typically come through patience and wearing down your opponents. Avoid negative first down plays, get three, four, five, six yards or consistently and play more intelligent on first down. The Steelers offense has the potential to be as lethal running as passing. Have some success running and it will open up the play action passing game and open up passing lanes. Style points are fun, but they don't add points to the scoreboard. We have seen a sample of what the Steelers offense can do when they hold onto the ball and play balanced football against the Eagles and Browns. The adjustments made have been very good and more importantly, the offense has executed the adjustments well. 


3. Keep the running game going.This is part of being patient on offense. You have a variety of weapons in the backfield. Mix them up. Just don't run Samuels on the third and two.🤬 Use the RB's best with their talents. Connor is the bell cow. Snell is the Rb who gives him a break. McFarland showed that he can actually run an effective screen and has mad quickness getting around the corner or up-field. Samuels is a receiving back, so get him the ball in that role. The Titans are certainly going to try to stop the run, but don't lose faith. The OL is doing a solid job of getting a push and defenders are not breaching the LOS like last year when they constantly put 8 and 9 in the box. James Connor is the main staple at RB, but this may be a good week to try to get the speedy Anthony McFarland more involved. He was not as effective in limited use against the Eagles and Browns, but his speed and change of pace may help the Steelers with being able to use Connor more effectively as RB1. You don't want to end up having to pass in obvious situations. The Titans secondary is scary good and capable of picking off passes and taking advantage as they did against the Bills. 


4. Use the other tools in your tool-belt for this job. Our TE's are pretty darn good in the passing game. Save a few drops, they have done some good things and will get better. Don't get so infatuated with throwing deep. Move the chains. We are the Steelers not the Chiefs. We don't have to have 84 yard TD's passes to be an effective offense. Second and third down throws to Vance, Ebron, Samuels, McFarland or Connor should be considered. This will help open things up outside for Ju Ju, Dionte (who may be out), James, and Claypool. The best defense is a great ball controlling offense. Our defense showed that they can be more effective rested. The offense can help here. The Texan had some success throwing as QB Deshaun Watson threw for  335 yards, but still lost. The Steelers hope to have better defensive support than the Texans gave Watson. However, in order to be successful against the Titans who will surely make some adjustments, you need to continue to spread the ball around. Last week Big Ben tried to get Washington the ball more, this may actually be a better week to feature Ju Ju and the forgotten TE Vance McDonald. 


5. Eliminate turnovers and untimely penalties (I.E. don't beat yourselves) - - The Titans are more than good enough to win on their own, don't help them.

Don't overthink this. Come up with a balanced game plan and mix it up to keep the defense from keying on what you do. This offense struggles like most when they get behind in down in distance. Every game this has happened a few times. I was livid last week after Ray Ray McCloud returns a punt and the Steelers get a chance to eat up some clock, wear the Texans defense down, and go back. But instead it is a sack on the first play. Second and 19 or 20. If I remember we start chucking the ball long. Philosophy should have been a little different here. Pick up 7, 8, 10, 12 yards to make third down a little more manageable. Picking up positive yards early helps the overall balance of this offense. Sometimes KISS (Keep It Simple and Steeler) works most effectively. It is no secret that success breeds confidence. I would like to see what this offense can do with some confidence and swag. Sometimes you are luckier than good in football. The Steelers have not turned the ball over in two games. This definitely needs to continue here. The Titans secondary is looking to rebound from last week and Big Ben is a definite contrast in styles to Deshaun Watson. A few balls have gone into opposing defenders hands that could have resulted in turnovers. This would be a recipe for disaster for the Steelers.


Apply these things on offense and defense, and a Steelers victory in Tennessee is possible.

The Steelers coaches have done a wonderful job of making adjustments and the team has done well with executing those adjustments on both sides of the ball.


Special Teams: I am still not a Danny Smith fan, but the coverage teams have been more consistent. The return game looks bright with Ray-Ray McCloud. In fact, I would put him back on punts instead of Johnson especially coming off a possible concussion. This guy looks like he has the wow factor on returns. As elusive as Dionte can be, I am disappointed with some of his decision making (fielding a punt inside the five yard line. PR 101 says that's a no no). Dionte is capable of taking any punt to the house, but has also shown to be capable of making mistakes as well. McCloud looks like he is about to break one on most every KOR and in his limited PR. Go with the hot legs. I cannot say enough about how well McCloud has played and thus far has been consistent in every aspect of his game. This would not be a bad week for him to take one to the house!


I will probably sleep better if the Titans Adoree Jackson stays on the IR for another week.  Although be careful what you wish for as Titans Khalif Raymond is a speedy threat to take one to the house as well. 


McCleod!!!!I am Ray ray McCloud of the Steelers Clan.



Key Injuries: League Injury Report to come out on Wednesday

Steelers: Dionte Johnson's (Concussion protocol) TBD, Derek Watt (Hamstring) Likely Out several weeks. With the new IR rules Watt may go to IR and the Steelers may sign a player off the PS or sign a free agent FB. A Rosie Nix sighting might not be a bad idea here. I'm just saying.  It looks like Derrick Watt was back against the Browns, but I don't remember how much he played. New injuries from Browns last week were OG David DeCastro and WR Dionte Johnson were out.  ILB Devon Bush is gone for the year from a non contact ACL injury in the second quarter. (Can Spillane, Williams, Allen and Smith combine to replace him)?  Nickel CB Hilton and FB Derrick Watt to begin week on questionable. Johnson and DeCastro will start working tomorrow. Some good news in that reserve OL Stefan Wisniewski did some work last week and is scheduled to do more this week before his status is updated from the IR.  


Titans: LT Taylor Lewan (shoulder) TBD, CB Adoree Jackson IR,  Both Lewan and Jackson are on IR as one of my favorite LT's has a torn ACL. 

Prediction: I am really torn on this game. Hope and heart versus the reality of the situation. My hope: The Steelers again Steel one late 34- 24. After the Titans fight back from an early 24 - 10 lead by the Steelers. Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry get the Titans rolling in the third quarter scoring 14 and the Steelers muster an early FG Steelers lead 27-24. Ryan Tannehill throws a pass for Davis that is deflected by Joe Haden and picked off out of the air by Minkah Fitzpatrick who returns it for a pick six.  Steelers win 34-24 in a game that is much closer than the final score. Steelers are 4 - 0. Steelers haven't been 4-0 since 1978. We know what happened that year! 😀

Reality of the situation says that the Titans win a close one 27 - 24. Steelers 3-1. The Steelers can't play two and a half or three quarters of football this week. They have to play all four quarters 60 minutes. Thus far, they haven't on either side of the ball. I am really torn. This Steelers offense is on the verge of playing well and the defense despite some hitches has made plays and key stops. This game can really go either way. Both teams are good and both can take advantage of the other teams mistakes and missed opportunities. I don't think either team has really played their best football yet. This will probably come down to who turns the ball over less and who makes the fewest penalties. I think it is that close. if I have to just pick one: Steelers over Titans. I am honestly not that confident as this team is stumbling on offense at times and leaving the defense out to dry and they are giving up some plays as well. History has been on the Steelers side of late as they have matched up well with the Titans in the last few regular season and pre-season meetings. 

Updated Prediction: What a difference a few weeks makes. These are two of the top teams in the AFC and even the entire NFL. This could well be a play-off prequel/sequel. You have two physical tough teams with undefeated records. No one wants to lose and give ground or bragging rights. This game will come down to who holds onto the ball better and who scores TD's and not FG's. Both offenses have been blistering with the Titans putting up over 30 points in 4 of 5 games and 42 the past two weeks. The Steelers offense has put 38 points the past two weeks and could have scored more in their first three games when they scored 26, 26, and 28 before running the clock out at the end. Everything points to a shootout. 

This is a game that I want to patiently and methodically move the ball. I want to eat up clock and snap the ball inside of 5 seconds on every down to try to keep Ryan and Derek on the sidelines. Is the Steelers offense patient and good enough to do that? Ben has played his smartest football lately over his future HOF career. I don't think they have a Browns hangover and are certainly not overlooking the Titans to get at the Ravens for AFC North Supremacy next week. This is a tough three game stretch for Pittsburgh and I think they will be fortunate to come out 2-1 on the road in Tenn, Balt, and Dall. Pretty even game, but I predict Steelers over Titans 30 (3 TD, 3 FG) - 26 (2 TD, 4 FG).  Steelers remain unbeaten for another week. This game can honestly go either way and the Titans are playing well at home.  The team who can hold onto the ball, control the clock TOP, and force FG's instead of TD's will help give  their team a much better chance to win.


Edited by Steeler Hitman
Completed Weekly GD Thread
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The #Titans had three new player positives and five new personnel positives for COVID-19, sources tell me and @MikeGarafolo. Both Titans and Vikings, who hosted them Sunday, will suspend in person club activities starting today.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 29, 2020





After multiple positive COVID tests in their organization , the Titans are halting in-person work today and made this announcement: pic.twitter.com/2LDjIBgyor

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 29, 2020


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32 minutes ago, jebrick said:

From looking at the rules

https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/nfl-covid-rules-coronavirus-football-2020/rovse8r08zbu1quh7y3joydah#NFL schedule changes 2020

I think the game happens unless the entire Titan team is quarantined

Yikes. That could be really bad for the Titans. They might be scrambling to find players. 

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A good breakdown of the possible scenarios for the game




The show must go on

With the protocols in place by the NFL, the Titans may just have to hold virtual practices this week and go forward with the players who are not on the Reverse/COVID-19 List. The reason all these things are in place is for games to still take place. Does this put the Titans at a bit of a disadvantage? It would be difficult to argue that it would not. But at the same time the NFL does not like to disrupt their schedule if it all possible.



Edited by jebrick
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5 minutes ago, jebrick said:

where profit meets health/safety, profit prevails. This is why there are practise squads, and this season the league should allow a few more players on the PS squads as a result. I'm waiting for a high profile player to be said to have this and see what happens. 


No matter what, I still expect the titans to be a formidable opponent since they will run and keep trying to run until they can run. I'm not sold on our run defence with 7 up front. 8 man box, then Tanny can execute PA and he is great at that.


bottom line is that ben better put up some points, fichner better not waste this game

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1 minute ago, 3rivers said:

No matter what, I still expect the titans to be a formidable opponent since they will run and keep trying to run until they can run. I'm not sold on our run defence with 7 up front. 8 man box, then Tanny can execute PA and he is great at that.

Yeah, I'm definitely worried about Henry. I feel like any team should be. He's a battering ram. I do think we tend to do better with big bruisers as opposed to shifty guys. We're rarely out physicalled. 

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This has been floated as a possible solution:

"There’s a fairly easy schedule fix, if the game is postponed. The Titans have a Week Seven bye, the Steelers play the Ravens in Week Seven, and the Steelers and Ravens have Week Eight byes. So the NFL could move Steelers-Titans to Week Seven and Steelers-Ravens to Week Eight, with Baltimore’s bye coming in Week Seven."

So the Steelers would get screwed and have to play Baltimore coming out of their bye on top of three straight road games and their bye being at a pretty useless time for them in week 4.

I don't see the league wanting to reshuffle things, but that would be the worst case scenario for this game from a Steelers perspective.

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3 hours ago, MOSteelers56 said:

Yeah, I'm definitely worried about Henry. I feel like any team should be. He's a battering ram. I do think we tend to do better with big bruisers as opposed to shifty guys. We're rarely out physicalled. 

Henry wouldn't matter if the defence can play 8 man box, still a problem but should be containable. The problem is that Tanny is a legit threat especially with PA and the weapons he has if they are healthy and out there.  Then add to this their HC is no slouch and will stay with the run regardless. The steelers better be ready for their most physical game of the season, maybe next to the ravens.    Lamar was brought down to earth by a legit D and a team in the lead once again.  KC are the class of the league.

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Looks like we are playing Monday or Tuesday. Great for injuries like DJ, but I hate creating that short week. I get they need to take a little extra time for testing and safety to make sure you are not inviting the Titans to infect the Steelers, but just hate that the Steelers will get punished for the Titans issues. 

Would love to see them say, screw it -- Steelers Home game that way they at least get the benefit of NOT having to travel. Wont happen, but to me that makes sense. 


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