"So who's gonna win that battle, Wolf?"
The question was posed to me in the darkness of the offensive line meeting room at Three Rivers Stadium.
The chattering of the reel to reel film projector sat silenced, as Coach Chuck Noll turned it off and looked at me, expectantly, patiently, awaiting my reply.
Back in my playing days it wasn't unusual for Coach Noll to apply a little extra "motivation" when we faced an opponent with a poor record. Coach would never stand for any of us to overlook an opponent, to underestimate the power of "Any given Sunday."
And Coach Noll, as the master motivator and coach that he was, would take to personalizing various, and intriguing upcoming battle's in an attempt to put a face on a poor record, to take it from a global won/loss perspective and personalize it.
Coach would simply ratchet up the intensity, spotlighting and highlighting matchups, putting people on the spot. Coach knew what he was doing.
And I am going to do the same.
This week's Meat-Eater Matchup highlight's Steelers offensive tackle Matt "The Anchor" Feiler locking horns with 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end Taco Charlton.
Charlton, the Dolphins leading sacker, was picked up off waivers back on September 19, 2019. A former first round draft pick from Michigan, Charlton was waived by the Dallas Cowboys.
This is a battle that certainly on paper, and first review, weighs heavily in the favor of the Steelers. But there are aspects to this battle that if Feiler underestimates, or allows himself to let those mental RPM's diminish at all come game time, he could end up having "one of those days."
Charlton has been with Miami for only four games. I would think he barely knows his way around the Dolphins practice complex.
But he has three sacks in those four games, including one which came as a result of Charlton dropping into a zone blitz assignment, and then coming up from off to sack the quarterback when he was running around, trying to extend the play. Charlton also has recorded 16-tackles as well.
You'll find that he is one of those "gumby" type bodies that is hard to get a bead on. At 270-pounds, he's rather lean, and won't attempt to overpower Feiler as much as search for a favorable leverage angle to edge rush.
He's slippery in the sense that when he pass rushes, Charlton will rush up the field, trying to stay on the "brim of the line of fire."
Old-time martial arts master, Bruce Lee, coined that term to define the fighting distance at which two combatants could contact each other "fistically," without getting into full body contact. Think of two boxers punching from the outside.
Feiler, with a good kick-step, and good arm-length that translates into a good punch radius, shouldn't have a problem with that.
Charlton is a hand fighter on the pass rush hunt. He'll play from a three-point stance over the tackle, and when he reduces to a three-technique over the outside shoulder of the guard. He also will stand up like a linebacker at times to the strong-side over the tight end.
When Charlton rushes on the outside arc, he will slap at Feiler's arms, trying to knock them down and turn the corner.
Charlton will also try to "stab" or use a one-arm lockout to create a bridge from which he can leverage his full bodyweight into. He's quick and doesn't give a solid punch surface to strike at.
Charlton has a nice solid inside arm lockout, but he doesn't have the four-wheel drive ham-hock power to bull rush and overwhelm Feiler.
Feiler, as everybody knows, is extremely strong and has a great ability to absorb and stuff a bull rush. I think Feiler could catch a car rolling downhill and bring it to a stop if he had to.
At times Charlton kicks down over the guard to a three-tech. But when he does, he gets overpowered by double teams. (One of the many reasons the Dolphins are giving up 160.8 yards rushing a game).
David DeCastro and Feiler should be able to clear some serious inside pathways for the running back's. Charlton is just not big enough and strong enough to match up with those two hogs.
- Feiler needs to maintain and mirror Charlton on any up-field rush. Charlton would rather try to "ghost" Feiler than fight him in a phone booth. Feiler needs to work his kick-step, maintain his vertical pass set discipline and keep his head back. Just don't lean forward on your punch Feiler, and you'll be fine.
- Because Charlton likes to swat and stab with his inner arm, Feiler should punch him in the near-side shoulder with his left (inner arm). And when Charlton tries to lockout with his inner arm, knock it down ala Tunch Ilkin versus the late, great, Hall of Famer, Reggie White. Have Mac pull up some game vids from the latter 80's. Tunch displays some pure hand-trapping mastery in those games.
- When Charlton reduces to a three-tech, and Feiler has an opportunity to either block down (to his inside) on Charlton, or double team with DeCastro, it should be worthy of a "Code Red" body beat down.
I'm going to finish like I started, only I'm going to ask Feiler, what Coach Noll asked me, oh so many years ago.
"So who's gonna win that battle, Matt?"