A head coach with a defensive background, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, will lead the NFL’s top-ranked defense into Denver Sunday.
The Steelers have always had a reputation for tough defense, and in studying the Broncos’ game tape, Tomlin said he’s impressed with what he sees on that side of the ball in Denver.
“I see a group that plays hard and fast. I see a group that’s opportunistic. I see a group that’s capable of breaking down pockets and making quarterbacks miserable,” Tomlin said in a conference call.
“I think Von Miller is as good as advertised. I’ve heard a lot about that young man, and from watching tape the last 48 hours or so, it’s well deserved. Of course, (Elvis) Dumervil’s reputation is cemented; we all know what he’s capable of. He’s got some hot tape out there. I just think they’re a really solid group, and I like the contributions of Marcus Thomas and D.J. Williams, and I think Joe Mays has played really good football.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger knows that Broncos defense will be coming after him Sunday.
Roethlisberger has been working through an ankle injury and rate the health of his ankle a 5 out of 10 in a conference call.
Regardless, the Steelers quarterback is well aware of the pressure the Broncos can provide off the edge with two Pro Bowlers in Dumervil (9.5 sacks) and Miller (11.5 sacks).
“(Dumervil) is a beast,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s got so many moves from just running you over to spinning to putting one arm in and just running the guy over. He’s just always wreaking havoc and he’s got speed as well. To me, he’s one of the best in the game.”
“(Miller) is unbelievable,” Roethlisberger said. “For a young guy to come in and do the things that he’s done… it’s pretty amazing.”
While Roethlisberger braces for the Broncos pass rush, the Pittsburgh defense is preparing for a unique Denver offense.
Tomlin said backup quarterback Dennis Dixon — who ran an option offense at the University of Oregon — is playing the role of Tim
Tebow in practice to give the Steelers defense a good look against a read-option attack.
As far as Tebow’s struggles during the Broncos’ three-game losing streak, Tomlin said it’s all part of being a young quarterback in a copycat league.
“He’s probably going through what a lot of newly starting quarterbacks go through in that you get enough looks on people on film, then you get ideas about comfort zone and things about how you can potentially play him,” Tomlin said. “I think people are gathering more information about him like you would do anybody that’s played some now.”
Roethlisberger credited Tebow for his ability to find ways to win in his first extended opportunity as the Broncos starter.
“I think he’s a winner. I think he finds ways to get it done,” Roethlisberger said. “Like me, he’s unconventional. People say he can’t throw the ball; he can’t do this. He finds a way to win, and sometimes, that’s all that matters in this game.”