Steelers will be ready for Titans’ two-deep shell

The Pittsburgh Steelers have revamped their passing attack this year courtesy of offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Haley has installed unique route concepts and uses alignments and spacing to create holes in coverages. He makes it easy for Ben Roethlisberger to get the ball to his dynamic receivers in space. So far, the results have been impressive. Roethlisberger ranks third in the NFL with a passer rating of 102.9, while the Steelers as a whole rank 10th with 268.3 yards per game through the air. That puts Big Ben on pace to have his best season in terms of passing efficiency since 2007.

This spells bad news for a Tennessee Titans defense that ranks 25th in passing yards allowed per game and has opposing QBs lighting them up with a passer rating of 112.4. Tennessee also plays at lot of Cover 2, which Pittsburgh has been particularly adept at shredding this year. The “Playbook” crew breaks down how the Steelers will attack the Titans defense with their speed and plethora of talented playmakers.

The Steelers come out in a Split Gun formation and want to attack the middle of the field with a Post/Dig combination. Mike Wallace is the No. 2 WR of the two receiver side and has the Post route, while Antonio Brown (highlighted) has a Dig route underneath Wallace.

The goal of the Post/Dig combination is to take advantage of the middle of the field. Philadelphia is in a Tampa 2 coverage where the Mike linebacker has deep middle responsibility, while the deep safeties each have half field responsibility. This is the perfect coverage for this route combo to be effective.

In the middle of the field, The Mike linebacker carries Wallace on his Post route, his speed threatens the deep middle; vacating the intermediate area between the hashes. Antonio Brown trails underneath on his Dig route into the vacated area lifted by Wallace. Excellent play call and execution against a coverage that they will see this verses the Titans.

Tennessee’s defense will be at a disadvantage on “Thursday Night Football” against this Pittsburgh passing attack, but the Titans will have some opportunities to exploit the Steelers as well. The Titans will need to keep the Steelers’ struggling 26th-ranked running game from taking off with RB Rashard Mendenhall back in action. If they can keep him bottled up and keep the Steelers in third-and-long situations consistently, the Titans will give themselves better chances to attack the Steelers’ offensive line with pressure, disrupting their timing on five- and seven-step drops. Still, it will be a tall order for them to put up enough points against the Steelers defense in order to contend in this game.

“Playbook” — the ultimate football Xs and Os show — airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET (NFC) and 9 p.m. ET (AFC) on NFL Network. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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