All-32: Can Cam Heyward Help Steelers Beat Dolphins?

Pittsburgh Steelers DL Cam Heyward
Pittsburgh Steelers DL Cam Heyward
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Welcome to All-32, a game-by-game preview of every matchup on the NFL slate each week. The goal is to provide a look at the most critical part of each game with a marriage of data and film study. As the season rolls along, the focus will narrow in on the specifics, but for this week, many of the featured players and units are big-picture projections for the teams in question.

If you're interested in our game picks, you can find them on this page.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins—Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

Key Unit/Player: PIT DL Cameron Heyward

The best way to make Tua Tagovailoa uncomfortable is to get in his face. For all of Tagovailoa's progress and production this season, he still does not fare well when interior pressure muddies his vision and throwing platform. Tagovailoa said himself that seeing over the middle of the field is tough as is for him, let alone when pressure gets there. He also needs clean throwing platforms because his arm is barely at the NFL threshold, so anything that disrupts his mechanics and saps his strength can be detrimental on a given play.

Cameron Heyward is going to need to have his best game of the season as a pass-rusher in order to make Tagovailoa uncomfortable. Heyward has been a menace in the ground game, but his pass-rush juice has been a bit lacking. Among the 197 players with at least five pressures this season, Heyward ranks 176th in pressure rate at just 6%, per Sports Info Solutions. Heyward has still been effective pushing and condensing the pocket, but working free and generating pressure of his own has been a struggle.

Maybe Heyward's pocket-pushing will be enough. The Steelers generally do well when they send extra bodies and Heyward's ability to forcefully move offensive linemen one way or another plays a role in that. Still, Heyward will need a handful of impact plays to make sure Tagovailoa is uneasy in the pocket.