Know Your Eagles Enemy: The Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: DEC 08 Steelers at Cardinals
GLENDALE, AZ – DECEMBER 08: Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) and Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson (22) look on during the NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals on December 8, 2019 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire)

First place! YES! Okay… it’s at 1-2-1.. but first place is first place. The Eagles now travel five hours west to face their in-state rival the Pittsburgh Steelers. As with the other enemy articles, we will start off by looking at their 2019 ranks and off-season moves.

2019 Ranks:
  • Yards per game: 276.8 (30th)
  • Passing yards per game: 186.3 (31st)
  • Rushing yards per game: 90.4 (29th)
  • Points per game: 18.1 (27th)
  • Yards allowed per game: 304.1 (5th)
  • Passing yards allowed per game: 194.6 (3rd)
  • Rushing yards allowed per game: 109.6 (14th)
  • Points allowed per game: 18.9 (T-5th)
  • Turnover differential: +8 (T-7th)
Key additions:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (return from injury), TE Eric Ebron (free agency), WR Chase Claypool (draft), FB Derek Watt (free agency)

Key departures:

DT Javon Hargrave (free agency), G Ramon Foster (retirement), CB Artie Burns (free agency), LB Mark Barron (free agency)

Big Ben rings again

After undergoing elbow surgery in 2019 and missing 14 games, Ben has come back strong through three games and is averaging 259.0 passing yards per game. Their game versus the Titans was postponed last week. So yeah, facing the Steelers off a bye. Fun!

Anywho, Ben looks pretty good despite averaging his worst YPG since 2012 (251.2). His QB rating is his highest since 2014 and is 10th in the league this year in that category (105.2). He’s also only been sacked five times in three games. His 84-yard completion to Chase Claypool is the longest pass of the season among any quarterback.

He’s not a threat to run, but the Steelers’ offensive line has been good enough to keep him upright in the pocket. We saw a breakout from Genard Avery last game, some much-needed consistency from Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat, and some great production from the defensive tackles, but the Steelers’ offensive line will give them trouble.

Steel Curtain 3.0?

The original Steelers’ Steel Curtain defense was in the top ten in yards allowed from 1972-1979.

The Steelers defense led by Troy Polamalu and James Harrison were top ten in yards allowed from 2002-2012 (also the two years prior to Polamalu being drafted).

Since 2017, the Steelers have been in the top ten in yards allowed. TJ Watt was drafted in 2017. Coincidence? I think not.

Watt had a very productive rookie year with 7.0 sacks in 15 games. He followed that up with a sophomore season consisting of 13.0 sacks and six forced fumbles. Last year he had 14.5 sacks and a league-leading eight forced fumbles. He became just the third player ever to make the All-Pro at two different positions in the same year (1st team EDGE and 2nd team LB).

Couple his presence with that of Minkah Fitzpatrick, and you have a duo that terrorizes quarterbacks. Last season I made a small case for the Eagles to trade for Fitzpatrick, but they didn’t listen to me. Fitzpatrick ended up going to the Steelers for a first and fifth-round pick in 2020.

From week 3-14 in 2019 (the 14 games Fitzpatrick played with the Steelers), he had 5 INT (T-2nd), 9 passes defended (T-8th most), allowed a 46.3 passer rating, and was named a 1st Team All-Pro.

Yeah, this Eagles offense may struggle a tad.

For a history and game predictions, check out the next page.

Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire