10/10/19-Steelers at Chargers Preview

By: Mike Pelaia

The 1-4 Steelers head west to take on the 2-3 Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night.  Both teams are in dire need of a win and despite the Steelers poor start to the season, they are very much alive in a watered down AFC North. Should they pick up a victory this weekend, they can remain in the divisional conversation.

Devlin “Duck” Hodges will be under center for the Steelers and he’ll need to provide an immediate spark to an offense that has had some trouble moving the ball downfield.  The key to success will be running the football with James Conner. Randy Fichtner has not enabled the traditional running game at a time when his offense needs to control he clock and help out its’ young quarterback(s).  It needs to start this week and Conner has to get 20-25 touches.  I’m tired of saying it so I hope it happens! 

I’m also very adamant that the Steelers let Hodges loose.  They need to allow him to throw the ball downfield to JuJu Smith-Schuster and they need to let him run some draw plays.  Hodges can move and I think this is exactly what this offense needs right now, his mobility.  I anticipate he’ll have a relatively productive night, if Fichtner doesn’t get in his way.

The defense needs to continue to do what they have done over the last three weeks. They need to pressure Phillip Rivers on nearly every play. Rivers is a statue back there and can be sacked many times over, if the Steelers continue to apply pressure throughout the game.  TJ Watt is the guy on defense that I’m looking for to be the star of the game.  I anticipate him getting a couple of sacks and creating a fumble.  Keenan Allen is the guy that the secondary will need to contain and stop from making the big splash plays.  If they don’t, it could be a longer day than the team wants.

My fear around this game is the “Fichtner Factor”.  Despite what I wrote above, I don’t think he’ll run the ball efficiently. I think his game plan will be poorly constructed and without adjustments and I think he’ll be the reason, once again, the Steelers come out on the wrong side of the game despite, in all likelihood, being competitive.  “Fire Fichtner” must rain down upon the plane as it lands back at home early Monday morning with a 1-5 Steelers team losing 24-17, thanks to Fichtner and his ineptitude.


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