1) Blocking Watt and Dupree
The Pittsburgh defense might not sit atop most statistical categories, but you would never know that watching them play. It’s a group with multiple former first-round selections that can all run and hit, led by outside linebackers T. J. Watt and Bud Dupree. They’ve combined for seven sacks and can apply pressure off the edge by bringing speed and power when getting to the quarterback. Miami’s offensive line has improved over the last few games, but may still need to overcome the loss of center Daniel Kilgore, who may miss his second straight games with a leg injury. The combination of Evan Bohem and Chris Reed held up nicely last week in Buffalo. They will need to play equally as well on Monday night when trying to block versatile defensive tackle Cameron Heyward and instinctive linebacker Devin Bush, who leads the Steelers defense with 32 total tackles.
2) Executing under pressure
There’s always a few plays or sequences in a game that swings the momentum or alters the ultimate outcome of the contest. The Dolphins didn’t capitalize last week in the red zone and what should have been a two-score lead for Miami turned into a three-point deficit. Two weeks ago, a failed two-point conversion negated an explosive fourth quarter comeback attempt that turned into a one-point Redskins victory. It will be important for this team to handle the loud, boisterous crowd at Heinz Field, and just execute while eliminating the mistakes that have not allowed this team to finish. Finishing drives and finding a way to slow down the explosive plays on defense will put this team in position to make the critical plays when it matters most!
3) Frustrate young QB
One way to frustrate second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph is to slow down the Steelers running attack. The combination of James Conner and Benny Snell has been solid, but not consistent enough to take over a game for four quarters. If the Dolphins defense can stiffen against the run early, it might apply undue pressure to a quarterback that hasn’t played in two weeks while recovering from a concussion. The Miami defense could get cornerback Xavien Howard back in the starting lineup and that should tighten coverage on one side of the field. If players like Taco Charlton and Vince Biegel can crank up the edge pressure, hopefully this secondary can play more aggressively as a unit and create a few takeaways that shorten the field for Fitzpatrick and the offense.