PFF Preview: Buccaneers @ Steelers, Week 4
The Buccaneers will travel to Pittsburgh having nine much needed days to recuperate after an ugly loss to the Falcons. In that game they were missing Gerald McCoy to injury and Michael Johnson played a negligible amount of time due to an injury of his own. But the overall performance of the team led some to question the players’ motivation to play for new head coach Lovie Smith.
In all likelihood, the Bucs will be better this week. Whether they’ll play well enough to knock off the 2-1 Steelers will come down to limiting the damage Pittsburgh’s offense can do with its numerous screens. Free agent signing Alterraun Verner has shown to be capable in Smith’s defense, tallying eight defensive stops and a +2.6 grade in coverage, but the corners alongside him have been less inspiring. Specifically Johnthan Banks (-6.6) has been worrisome, missing four tackles and recording just one defensive stop.
If there’s one area where Tampa should be better it’s the offense. No matter which quarterback gets the start, they’ll face off against a unit that lost three starters last week and signed the recently-no-longer-retired James Harrison to come in at outside linebacker. He may help offset the loss of Jarvis Jones, but it remains to be seen when rookie Ryan Shazier will re-enter the lineup. Also out is Ike Taylor, and while Cortez Allen hasn’t played well, Taylor may not be missed quite as much thanks to excellent play so far by William Gay. Playing their nickel cornerback, Gay has three pass defenses already this year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lavonte David – David has recorded 16 defensive stops on the season, which is twice as many as anyone else for the Buccaneers.
Alterraun Verner– Verner has four stops in run defense for a Run Stop Percentage of 4.9 (fourth-best). He also has four stops in pass coverage and has not missed a tackle in the passing game.
Josh McCown – In 2013 McCown was accurate on 77% of his pressured dropbacks. This year that’s fallen to a dismal 52.2%. Though it’s been a small sample size, Mike Glennon has been accurate on 87.5% of his pressured dropbacks this year, though his mark of 56.9% last season isn’t exactly encouraging.
Antonio Brown – His 138 yards after the catch are the most in the league, and the four missed tackles he’s forced are fifth-most.
Cameron Heyward – Despite having a pair of highly-drafted young players at outside linebacker, Heyward leads the team with ten pressures this season.
Ben Roethlisberger – Known for extending plays, Roethlisberger has an average time to throw of just 2.33 seconds (fourth-lowest) in 2014. Even so, his QB rating on dropbacks of 2.6 seconds or more is a ridiculous 120.5, behind only Peyton Manning.
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