Football Team

One thing WFT can take from Pittsburgh's Week 1 win vs. Bills

Football Team

As the Washington Football Team looks at film of how Buffalo's opponents have handled the Bills' offense through two weeks of the season, they should skip right over what Miami did (the Dolphins lost 35-0 to their AFC East foe on Sunday) and instead solely focus on what Pittsburgh accomplished in the opener.

During their Week 1 trip to Highmark Stadium — where Ron Rivera's squad will head this Sunday to take on Sean McDermott's club — the Steelers held quarterback Josh Allen's unit to just 16 points, a number that the Burgundy and Gold would surely sign up for, too. 

The way they went about doing that, by the way, is something that Washington has the talent to replicate. That said, they need that talent to actually show up in order to pull off a similar effort.

In that intraconference tilt, Allen dropped back a whopping 56 times — yet Pittsburgh sent more than four rushers at him just once. Despite that near complete lack of blitzing, the quarterback really struggled, as he threw for just 270 yards on 51 attempts.

So, why did the MVP-caliber passer have so much trouble moving the ball in that contest?

Well, his opponent's front line was able to generate a ton of heat on him without bringing extra bodies: TJ Watt and Co. sacked Allen on three occasions a couple of weekends ago, generated pressure on more than a third of his dropbacks and generated quick pressure (which comes within 2.5 seconds of the snap) on 20% of them. And again, they did all of that while deploying just a single blitz.

 

Now, as already mentioned, Washington — in theory — has the personnel to execute a similar strategy versus Buffalo.

During the run-up to this year, Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen (who's balling right now) Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis were regarded by many as the premier collection of defensive linemen in the NFL. Unfortunately, their early performance in 2021 has people questioning if all that hype was a waste of breath.

In fact, the entire defense has overall failed to deliver in its first couple of outings. The linebackers and secondary have been underwhelming as well, with outsiders suggesting that coordinator Jack Del Rio needs to get more aggressive in hopes of getting more production out of the group. To those detractors, Del Rio has been too hesitant with his calls and must start forcing the issue. 

For this Sunday, though, the Steelers' standout afternoon against the Bills would suggest that Del Rio should consider limiting his blitzing almost entirely (just don't tell that to the region's sports radio callers or the plethora of football geniuses on social media). 

That laid-back approach might seem counterintuitive, sure, but if Washington's main studs on the line truly play like studs — and thus allow the back seven to remain in coverage and try to clog up Allen's passing lanes — then that might be the surest path to victory for the team.