View Full Version : Steelers' pass rush running in low gear

09-23-2009, 04:57 PM
Steelers' pass rush running in low gear
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer, dlolley@observer-reporter.com

PITTSBURGH - The Steelers entered the season knowing opponents would try to prevent outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley from getting to their quarterbacks.

Thus far, it appears Pittsburgh's opponents can consider the mission accomplished.

After teaming for 271/2 sacks last year, Harrison and Woodley have been shut out this season as opponents have gone with more three-step drops for their quarterbacks. As a result, a Pittsburgh's pass rush, which produced 51 sacks a year ago, has just two.

By comparison, Cincinnati defensive end Antwan Odom had five sacks in the Bengals' victory Sunday over Green Bay last and leads the NFL with seven. The Steelers (1-1) play at Cincinnati (1-1) Sunday.

"I don't necessarily think it's indicative of the kind of rush we've been getting," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "We never use sacks to measure the quality of our rush. We want pressure applied to the quarterback, and ultimately it's how the quarterback plays."

If that's the indicator, then Tomlin can't be pleased. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 67.1 percent of their passes and have a passer rating of 93.4. Last season, when the Steelers led the NFL in passing yards, total defense and points allowed, opponents completed just 56.5 percent of their throws and had a passer rating of 64.3.

"We're going to have to adjust what we're doing," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "Teams are getting rid of the ball quickly, but we've got to do a better job of disrupting that."

The Steelers believe things will eventually even out.

"That quick passing, at times, is a run-game alternative," Tomlin said. "Of course, the minute you don't complete one of those short passes, you're behind the chains."

Getting Woodley and Harrison, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year to the quarterback would help. Harrison, in particular, is in a bit of a slump after registering 16 sacks a year ago. Counting the team's final two playoff games last season, he has gone four games without a sack.

"He's applied some pressure, and he hasn't gotten home and gotten a sack yet," Tomlin said. "Maybe that'll change this weekend."

Odds and end zones

Tomlin said Tyrone Carter, who's replacing injured Troy Polamalu at strong safety, might be held out of practice early in the week after suffering a thigh contusion against Chicago. If Carter is unable to play Sunday, Ryan Mundy might make his first career start. ... Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons has been cleared to return to fulltime action. After missing the opener with a sprained ankle, Timmons returned against Chicago, but only played on obvious passing downs. Keyaron Fox played in his place in the base defense.

09-23-2009, 06:31 PM
The titans and Bears came out with short dink and dunk passes to the flat. Their QBs got rid of the ball in less than 3 seconds. It's much more difficult to sack a QB that gets rid of the ball fast. Teams changed their offensive scheme to combat our defense. Now we need to change to affect their offense.

09-23-2009, 06:52 PM
We faced two teams that love to use the TE and RB in the passing game, and without Troy/Timmons, it was really tough to apply pressure and still cover those.

This week, the Bengals don't use their TEs or RBs as much, so we should see the pressure more meaningful.

09-24-2009, 10:27 AM
I would consider our pass rush in neutral right now. The Bears and Titans knew how to attack our defense and LeBeau and company need to figure out how to get that defense moving forward again.

09-24-2009, 02:56 PM
Its time for Woodley and Harrison to begin the 2009 season. :wink02:

09-25-2009, 02:42 AM
The Titans have a pretty good pair of running backs that they use to loosen up the defense to get the passing game goping.
The Bears use a similar offensive scheme with Mat Forte.
Cincinnati is counting on using Benson to force up the defense to open up the passing game like they did in Green Bay.

Neither the Titans or Chicago pulled that off.

If the defense can stop Benson, and I think they most definately can, the Bengals passing game is in big trouble. The Steelers D is not the Green Bay D. Can you see them giving up a 3rd and 35 run with Cincy backed up inside their own 10 for a first down?

Me either.

09-25-2009, 07:49 PM
Its time for Woodley and Harrison to begin the 2009 season. :wink02:

Yea you think :chuckle: Either that or the officials actually start calling holding on the OL players attempting to block Harrison!

09-26-2009, 01:16 AM
Not a Steelers fan, but stop panicking, you're two games into the season, and have been one of the best teams for years, and just came off a Superbowl team. I doubt everyone decided to suck over the summer.

They didn't all, the coaches and players and ownership, get together in April or May in a room and say, "Ok, let's suck for awhile, that'll be new, that'll show 'em, and if not, well someone else deserves a chance anyway," and there was a chocolate fountain that shot chocolate 100 meters into the air and rained down chocolate that everyone rolled around in and ate.