Ben Roethlisberger is listed as doubtful for this Sunday’s Steelers-Jaguars game. I’m guessing that Bill Cowher will rest Big Ben’s hyperextended knee and start Charlie Batch at QB, with Tommy Maddox, who’s listed as questionable for this game with a calf injury, serving as the backup.
Big Ben doesn’t need to play in this game. All he’s going to do is hand the ball off to Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker, anyway.
Why? The Jags are giving up 130.4 yards per game. They have trouble stopping the run. Edgerrin James gained 128 yards on 27 carries against Jacksonville, and the Colts got 10 rushing first downs. Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell combined for 175 yards on 38 carries, and the Broncos got 9 rushing first downs and held the ball for 38 minutes.
That plays right to the Steelers’ strength — hard-nosed, smashmouth football that focuses on ball control. In fact, Bettis should probably start this game ahead of Parker to help the Steelers set the tone for this game. They will run the ball down Jacksonville’s throat and dare the Jags to stop them.
The only passing game the Steelers need is to set up screens to get their jackrabbits — Parker, Antwaan Randle El, Cedric Wilson, etc. — into the open field to make some moves and get some YAC. (Yards After the Catch) There’s no need to risk further injury to Big Ben if Batch or Maddox can complete some screens.
Hey, here’s a new name for players like that — YACRabbits! Quick, speedy players who can make moves in the open field after they get the ball. Guys like Steve Smith and Brian Westbrook and… Antwaan Randle El. Every team needs a couple of YACRabbits…
But YACRabbits won’t win the game for the Steelers. The Bus will. This is one of those situations where Bus can (and wants to) put the whole team on his back and carry them to victory. Pittsburgh shouldn’t ask him to do this too often these days — Willie Parker’s speed will make him more dangerous against other opponents, anyway — but if ever there was a time for the Steelers to get on the Bus, this is it. The Steelers will play a physical game and hold the ball enough to keep Byron Leftwich off the field. If the over-under is 20 1/2, take the under.