The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Game Edition – Will the secondary rebound against one of the hottest offense in the league?
The Steelers face an unenviable task tonight, which is to slow down what is to date one of the most potent and prolific offenses in the league through two games. This is not exactly what we were expecting when we wrote about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being without Jameis Winston, but veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick has stepped in and played exceptionally well in Winston’s absence.
It helps that he has DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans to throw the ball two, as the team’s two Pro Bowl wide receivers have certainly been a vital part of Tampa Bay’s offensive success through two weeks. Surround a solid quarterback with excellent talent and he can go things nobody would otherwise expect him to.
Now the Steelers must try to bring Fitzpatrick back down to earth after throwing for over 800 yards in the first two weeks of the season and throwing at least four touchdown passes in each of those games. How exactly are they going to accomplish this?
Well, the plan is to simplify coverages to ease the strain on communications. One important member of the communication, Morgan Burnett, is likely to be absent, but Joe Haden is expected to return. On the other side…well, I’m not quite sure I or they know what they’re doing.
A good start would be to simply play assignment-sound football, which has proven too often to be a near-Herculean task through the first two weeks of the season. Even in the opener against the Cleveland Browns, there were wide-open opportunities that Tyrod Taylor failed to take advantage of, and another that was saved only by a sack.
Getting pressure on Fitzpatrick will be crucial. It’s something that they did well in the opener but failed to last week. The Buccaneers have only given up two sacks and five hits through the first two games, so it won’t be any easier.