Commentary

Rodgers-Cromartie vs. Holmes is key

Originally Published: January 27, 2009
By Jeremy Green and Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.
The Cardinals' defense is much improved, and the Steelers have an underrated passing attack. Which unit will prosper Sunday? Scouts Inc.'s Jeremy Green and Gary Horton debate whether the Steelers' spread offense can get the best of the Cardinals' sub packages.

Great Debate: Steelers' spread offense vs. Cardinals' sub packages

Pittsburgh

Gary Horton: Most people think of Pittsburgh's offense as old-fashioned, but the Steelers actually have a sophisticated passing game with a lot of unique looks and sets. Their base formation is a two-tight-end set, but they love to use multiple-receiver looks and can easily go to an empty backfield. This will put a lot of pressure on the Cardinals to have the right personnel on the field to match up, especially because the Steelers' tight ends can go in motion or flex out. TE Heath Miller is particularly effective in the spread offense because of his versatility, and Arizona does not really have a defender who matches up well with him. He can line up as a traditional tight end, go in motion, stand up in the bunch formation or even line up in the backfield.

The Steelers love to use motion to get favorable one-on-one matchups, and they always seem to have a definite game plan and know whom they want to attack. If the Cardinals play man-to-man, the Steelers will run some crossing routes that look like pick plays, which are designed to rub off the defenders. And if the Cardinals play zone coverage, the Steelers will nickel and dime them with underneath routes and attack the soft spots in the zone.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.