The Pittsburgh Steelers will play against their in-state rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, on Sunday afternoon. Preparation for the game could be interesting for the Steelers, as they are coming off an unexpected Week 4 bye due to the COVID-19 outbreak on the Tennessee Titans.
An Unexpected Bye Week
After news of the Titans’ coronavirus outbreak at the beginning of Week 4, the Steelers were given an unexpected Week 4 bye.
The Steelers will now play the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8, their original bye week. Also, Pittsburgh is slated to play the Titans in Week 7.
According to defensive tackle Cam Heyward, the Steelers are doing everything they can to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak within their own team.
“We’re wearing masks … you’re trying to adhere to the protocols and just follow,” Heyward said. “When you leave this facility, that has a lasting effect on our team. Everybody’s got to do our job. I don’t know how it transpired in Tennessee or these other places.”
A Week 4 bye could have some negative effects on the remainder of Pittsburgh’s season.
Since 2010, every team that has won the Super Bowl has had a bye week no earlier than Week 7. Early bye weeks can cause teams to burnout before they even reach the playoffs.
Steelers players, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, are not thrilled that their bye week was moved.
Ben Roethlisberger says he doesn't think the Titans will be forced to forfeit the Steelers' game and is also asked if his team got the short end of the stick.
Roethlisberger: "Of course we got the short end of the stick."
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 7, 2020
Week 5 Preparation
As a result of the Week 4 bye, the Steelers did not practice from Oct. 2 to Oct. 4.
Pittsburgh requested special permission from the NFL and NFL Players Association to hold a bonus practice on Monday.
“We always work on Mondays coming out of byes, but very rarely do we work on Thursday,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “The issue for us last week was, we didn’t know that we had a bye until we were at work on Thursday. So the PA and the league were considerate of those special circumstances, and they allowed us to stick to our schedule.”
Luckily, the time off allowed wide receiver Diontae Johnson to be cleared of the concussion protocol.
Steelers vs. Eagles: Keys to the Game
In his weekly press conference, Tomlin mentioned that Eagles tight end Zach Ertz could pose a threat for the Steelers secondary.
“[Zach] Ertz at tight end creates major, major issues,” Tomlin said. “He’s often too big and strong for defensive backs. He’s too fast and agile for linebackers. We have to be thoughtful about the people we employ to match him up against, particularly in situational ball, possession downs, red zone. This guy’s significant just about in all circumstances.”
Tomlin also explained that the punting unit, including Dustin Colquitt, needs to improve.
Colquitt is averaging 43.8 yards per punt, but the raw numbers and net punting are not meeting the expectations of the coaching staff.
The Steelers will need to remain composed during this matchup. The team is on a three-game win streak, but overconfidence could cause problems against their interstate rival.
One strong-suit for Pittsburgh heading into this game is their defense. They have a strong chance of breaking down the Eagles’ offensive line and getting to quarterback Carson Wentz quickly and frequently.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2020
The Steelers are set to kick off against the Eagles at Heinz Field on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Featured Image Courtesy of The Eagles Feast.
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