Mark Kaboly | Tribune-Review
We had the nickel. We had the big nickel. We had the dime. We had the penny.
So, of course, it’s now time for the quarter.
The Steelers dusted off their defensive sub-package stored in moth balls the past couple years they like to call the ‘quarter’ against the Bengals on Monday, much to the liking of safety Ryan Clark.
“I feel that it is one of best packages we have,” Clark said. “It makes us faster and it makes us quicker and it has a lot of people from the same room communicating. It is tough to play with linebackers some times because they might be being taught something different than what you are. For us, we get the same information from the same person.”
And most importantly, the Steelers put their best defensive player in position to make plays with his athletic ability – Troy Polamalu. Polamalu is no longer hampered with the responsibilities of protecting the deep part of the field.
“If you look back to the success we had here, the quarter package has been the best package we had,” Clark said. “The touchdown Troy scores to win the AFC championship was that package. Deshea Townsend interception against Dallas the same year was that package.
The quarter is when the defense employs three cornerbacks and three safeties on the field at the same time along with two defensive linemen and three linebackers — all likely rushing the passer.
Against the Bengals, the Steelers used that grouping 19 times with Polamalu, Clark and Robert Golden as safeties and Ike Taylor and William Gay as cornerback along with Shamarko Thomas playing nickel corner in the slot.
The defense allows more cover guys on the field at the same time to cover versatile tight ends or even bigger receivers. And in the Steelers case, cover guys who are sure tackles in the run game.
There is one downfall — typically six defensive backs on the field at the same time would leave the team vulnerable to the running game.
Not the Steelers.
“You have Shamarko on the field, you have Troy, myself, Ike – I don’t know what people on the field are better tacklers,” Clark said. “Other than Lawrence, who is more physical than those guys. I don’t think it makes us susceptible to the run at all and I also think even if run pop to the outside to run them down.”
With the Bears coming up on Sunday night who also have big receivers, a versatile tight end and a dynamic running back, the quarter will be a big part of the plan once again.