For Pittsburgh native Jordan Whitehead, Sunday's matchup with the Steelers will be a homecoming for Jets safety. While Whitehead will see loved ones, he wants to be part of a business solution as the Green & White look to find a remedy for some of the early-season problems they've had on defense.
"I am really excited to get back," Whitehead said. "It is my first my first time going to Pittsburgh to play since I've been in league. I am excited to see everyone, it is all love. But we are going back to fix some things and hopefully get a win."
Whitehead grew in Aliquippa, PA – a 30-minute drive from downtown Pittsburgh according to Whitehead – and went to Central Valley High School in Monaca. He grew up a 'die-hard' Steelers fan and played football at the University of Pittsburgh.
"Steelers fans are crazy similar to the Jets fans," Whitehead said. "It's a lot of the diehards. Win or lose, they are rocking with you."
He is looking forward playing in front of the yellow seats of Acrisure Stadium (formerly Heinz Field) again but has been putting in extra work to fix the tackling and communication issues that have led to explosive plays early this season. He's taken part in unscheduled meetings with the secondary to find a solution.
"It is all stuff that can be fixed," Whitehead said. "Myself, outside of practice and in my individual time, I'm doing tackling drills just to rev it up again. Tackling is a mindset. We have got to make a tackle. You have got to wrap up. You can also fix communication errors early in the season and that is what we are doing. You can't have those communications errors because one miscommunication can lead to a touchdown. So, we're really harping on that this week."
See the top practice images leading up to the Week 4 matchup against the Steelers.
Tackling won't come any get any easier against the Steelers' Pro Bowlers RB Najee Harris and WR Diontae Johnson. Last season, Harris's 30 broken tackles ranked second in the league and Johnson was eighth among receivers with 527 yards after the catch.
"They got a really good running back there in Najee. They try to feed him and get him going. He is a big back. We have got to wrap him up and tackle," Whitehead said. "They have got a lot of weapons on outside just like last week. They got Diontae who I think can get the ball to down the field. So, we got to play our best ball."
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was complimentary of Whitehead, who ranks third on the Jets with 18 tackles, and his safety counterpart Lamarcus Joyner this week. Whitehead has played Pittsburgh and Tomlin once in his career, a loss in 2018 as a member of the Buccaneers.
"The safety tandem, Whitehead and Joyner, are both really good tacklers and both really good feel guys in terms of having an innate feel for the game," Tomlin said.