Alejandro Villanueva faces challenge with Jaguars pass rush

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Oct 1, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva (78) defends against Baltimore Ravens linebacker Za'Darius Smith (90) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva (78) defends against Baltimore Ravens linebacker Za'Darius Smith (90) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Alejandro Villanueva has had a feel-good story to date so far. Coming from the armed services, Villanueva was a tight end turned defensive lineman turned left tackle. The Pittsburgh Steelers invested in him, and two years later, they extended him to be their future starting left tackle. His first full season and second year as a starter was a huge step forward that saw mostly above average play. However, his 2017 has not quite kept up with the same trajectory.

Villanueva has had ups but has also had some real struggles in 2017. Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked six times this season. Four of the six can be credited to Alejandro Villanueva. Carl Nassib, Everson Griffen, Willie Young and Lardarius Webb all got the better of him.

Alejandro Villanueva faces challenge with Jaguars pass rush

Coming into Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be the league leaders in the league when it comes to team sacks. That is led by Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, who have combined for 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles through four games. Five of those sacks have come solely against the left tackle.

In nickel situations, which is what the Steelers tend to force teams to play, the Jaguars will line up Campbell inside next to Ngakoue to wreak havoc on the left side of the offensive line. Campbell wins with power, Ngakoue with speed. This pairing has amounted to great success not only in terms of sacks but in pressures and hurries.

The Jaguars are a team that has to play with a lead. Their offense is not efficient enough to deal with a deficit. One way that the team could change the game, and grab a lead would be a strip sack in a situation where Villanueva is overpowered or ran around by the fierce pass rush coming after him. This will be a major test for Villanueva, and one that will help tell the story of his 2017 season.

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