This week’s match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles may feature two attacking defenses built to pressure a quarterback. Unfortunately, for the defenses, these quarterbacks are two of the biggest playmakers at their position and will cause sleepless nights for coordinators.Michael Vick may be the most athletic quarterback to ever play the position, with a rare combination of explosiveness as a runner and a cannon for a left arm. Everything he does is fluid, and when he is healthy and plays with an edge, he is almost impossible to stop.
For the Steelers, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may not be as athletic as Vick, but is no statue inside the pocket. Blessed with tremendous size, and an innate ability to create and improvise when things break down, he is also at his best when he plays with an edge. This season he has, and it speaks volumes about his ability in the new system as he stands second in the league with a 109.2 quarterback rating.
At first glance, it may seem like the key to stopping these offenses sits with keeping the quarterbacks in the pocket and that indeed may be the way to accomplish it. This may especially be true for the Steelers, as Vick has struggled with a 72.7-passer rating inside the pocket with six interceptions and only four touchdown passes. However, he has shown ability inside the pocket at times in his career and has definitely improved as a passer.
For the Eagles, they may face more of a dilemma with the way they attack Roethlisberger. Inside this new offense, coordinator Todd Haley has created a blend of quick pocket-passes and more vertical minded routes to keep defenses guessing (not to mention keeping Big Ben happy). Of course, the Steelers have needed a lot from the passing game with their inept running game in 2012, which may get a boost from both Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Rainey this week.
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