The Pittsburgh Steelers had their worst game of the season in pass protection on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, in spite of the fact that it was in a home primetime game, where they typically excel. There were a number of factors contributing to that, but largely, it fell back to the Bills being more aggressive than they were prepared for.
Combine that with two primary backfield pass protectors who were somewhat limited in practice and a rookie quarterback who doesn’t have a good feel for the pocket, and you only exacerbate any existing issues. That led to Devlin Hodges being sacked four times, and frequently chased off his spot.
Randy Fichtner was asked what went wrong with the Steelers’ usually strong pass protection during that game. “I don’t think anything went wrong, we were just a little bit on edge”, he said. “That can spook a young quarterback”.
Anybody who has been paying attention should know that Hodges has played a pretty important role in the amount of pressure he has faced this season, as it’s not uncommon to see him begin to drift out of a clean pocket and into pressure. But that was just one of the issues Sunday.
“You have to be able to protect yourself at times, too, with certain calls”, Fichtner added. “There is a lot of things that goes into protections, as you guys know. It was pretty consistent pressure last week. We had our moments and then we had moments that we have to improve on”.
Some of those moments stemmed from a failure in appropriately accounting for defensive back blitzes from the Bills, which is a concern as they prepare to face one of the best blitzing defensive backs in the game in Jamal Adams, the Jets’ safety.
“They like to use him a lot of different ways”, Fichtner said of Adams, the former first-round draft pick, who has a chance of setting the defensive back record for sacks in a single season. “I would expect to see if because maybe we didn’t handle it as well as we would have liked last week”.
The running back room will have to handle the free rusher better than they did Sunday, and the offensive line will have to pick up the stunts better than they had against the Bills. Tremaine Edmunds shouldn’t be seeing any free rushes up the middle, but that’s what happened this past game. They can’t have a repeat of that this week, or they’ll only put up another 10 points.