Game Day Analysis - Pittsburgh Steelers
By: Les Barnhart
Category: Washington Redskins News
August 26th, 2005
8pm at FedEx Field
It might be preseason but it is still football and football starved fans will take anything. This week’s game pits the beloved Redskins against the 2004 AFC North Division Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. For both teams it will be their third preseason game with both teams still looking to get their offenses on track. Considering the teams will be facing the number one (Steelers) and number three (Redskins) ranked defenses in 2004, both offenses will have their work cut out for them.
The Redskins come into the game with questions at several key places, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest question mark has come from the quarterback spot where the incumbent starter, Patrick Ramsey, has done nothing to dispel the whispers of a possible quarterback controversy between he and veteran Mark Brunell. Ramsey has had two rough outings and admittedly they were against two solid defensive units in the Panthers and Bengals, however it is his reads and questionable throws that have raised eyebrows of both the fans and the coaching staff. Brunell on the other hand has played well and has shown the arm strength that seemed to be lacking last season. While Coach Gibbs maintains that Ramsey will remain his starter, his play will have to improve or Gibbs will have little choice but to give Brunell his shot. Both quarterbacks should see extended looks against the Steelers and what should again be one of the league’s best defensive units.
The other areas of interest for the Redskins as they, unlike their counterparts, are still getting their team set for the regular season are the offensive line, running game and the receiving corps. The offensive line will be tested early and often by the Steelers defensive front. The Redsins' line has played better each game and has allowed their quarterbacks time to throw but the running game has yet to really take off. Clinton Portis has only rushed one time thus far in the preseason and should get the rust knocked off against the Steelers. His working with the offensive line will make both of them better as they get ready for the season opener. The receiving corps is still working itself into shape as they continue getting familiar with the Gibbs offense as well as working with their quarterbacks. They too, will be tested by the Steeler secondary.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins seem to be ready for the regular season and they look to get even better as they are scheduled to have Lavar Arrington in the lineup for the first time in almost a year. Arrington’s return should make the Steelers offense and Ben Roethlisberger’s job that much harder. Despite two wins (Eagles and Dolphins) in their first two preseason games, the Steelers starting offense has not found the end zone and have found just moving the ball to be difficult. Their offense is almost set, with the return of wide out Hines Ward and the emergence of tight ends, Matt Cranchick and Heath Miller. They will start the season without Duce Staley, who is again sidelined with a knee injury, which puts the running game on the shoulders of Jerome Bettis.
Both teams are looking to play their starters for at least the first half of the game and at some positions, into the third quarter. Ultimately, both teams want to come out of the game healthy and with more consistency from their offensive units. The Redskins will undoubtedly focus on getting their running game in order as well as better play from Patrick Ramsey. If Ramsey again struggles, he could again hear the boo-birds from the FedEx Featherheads. And if that happens, you can bet that calls will be made for Brunell to take the helm. The Steelers on the other hand, will be looking to improve their passing game as Roethlisberger continues to adjust to life without his favorite target last season, Plaxico Burress, who left via free agency to sign with the New York Giants. Considering the opposing defenses, both teams may need to consider minimal success on offense to be positive.
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