Neal Coolong (@NealCoolong), the site manager with Behind the Steel Curtain (@BTSteelCurtain), sits down with Scott Bantal to preview the Bengals and Steelers game on Sunday Night Football. If the Bengals win, they claim the AFC North Championship.
Q: If you were the Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, how would you attack the Steelers defense? If you were the Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, how would you attack the Steelers offense?
A: Short throw, short throw, seam throw, short throw, all maybe in that exact order, with deep options mixed in. I want to get the ball to my guys in space, and really force the Steelers' secondary to step up and make tackles. I'll run the ball because, if I'm Hue Jackson, I like to run the ball, and I want to keep those safeties closer to the line of scrimmage. That will force them into No Man's Land - running a deep route right at them with a short option in front. I'm going to whichever they fail to cover, and based on much of this season, one of them is likely to open up.
In doing that, though, I need to be worried about the linebackers. The Steelers are seeing excellent overall play from their inside linebackers - Lawrence Timmons and a combination of Sean Spence, Vince Williams and Ryan Shazier - and too much of a reliance on those short throws will get them sitting on flat routes. One bad throw or missed read leads to a pick, which leads to six going the other way, which are points you simply cannot allow when the Steelers have as much offensive firepower as they do.
I want to control the clock, I threaten fines for any interception thrown or fumble, and I'm going to make sure, regardless of the outcome, to give Dalton a bunch of simple reads and completions early in the game to avoid that odd habit of his to wrap his hands around his throat early in primetime games.
I'd also ask him to not kill Green with high throws over the middle, and just get him the ball in an area where he can make a play. I want the Steelers' cornerbacks to be forced to fight off blocks. Lots of wide screens and passes in the flats, but I've got to get the linebackers out of the way with seam routes run right at them.
I'd like to be Hue Jackson. I like the Bengals' offense. It's a tough one to stop, and the Steelers have their work cut out for them in this one.