Connect with us

Steelers News

Steelers Challenged to Get Pass Rush Going against Brady — And Maybe Officials



Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith

This week’s Pittsburgh Steelers opponent, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is at the forefront of the NFL’s recent crack-down on roughing the passer.

Brady was sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett on Sunday, after which Jarrett received a roughing the passer call for unnecessarily throwing Brady to the ground.

The call was one of two noteworthy roughing the passer calls last weekend that were largely criticized in NFL circles as being too soft. Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman was called for roughing the passer on a strip sack of Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, for tackling the quarterback with his full body weight.

It’s likely not a coincidence that both calls came one week after the league was roundly criticized for allowing Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to be in a position to be concussed by a hit — very similar to the one made against Brady.

The difference between the reaction to that play and the reaction to the Brady play was the history of Tagovailoa being staggered by a blow the previous week, being allowed to return to the game and play the following week, putting him in greater danger.

But the NFL does not seem interested in making that distinction at this time. Instead the league doubled down in the aftermath of the blowback from this weekend, when everyone from Jones himself to Troy Aikman to Steven. A Smith to Aaron Rodgers criticized the league’s handling of the situation.

“There is no backing down on enforcing rules that are in place to protect the health and safety of players, including quarterbacks, who by rule are considered defenseless players when they are in a passing posture,” a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

So the Steelers will have to deal with being the next team to try to tackle the highest-profile quarterback in the NFL while facing Brady this Sunday. Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was quick to point out that while the standard of enforcement may have seemingly changed, the rulebook has not. The things that Jones and Jarret were flagged for — landing on the quarterback with full body weight and unnecessarily throwing a player to the ground — have been points of emphasis and are not new rules.

“We just try to follow the rules as they’ve been presented to us,” Austin said. “You don’t land on him with your body weight. You hit to the side. You don’t hit him in the head. All the things. We’re just following the rules.”

Roughing the passer emphasis or not, the Steelers are in dire need of an increased pass rush from their defense to feel like the have a chance to upset Tampa Bay. The Steelers had seven sacks in their Week 1 win over Cincinnati that coincided with losing T.J. Watt to injury. Since then, they have three sacks in four games.

Brady represents a dual challenge. Not only is the three-time NFL MVP likely to be well-protected by officials, he also notoriously gets the ball out extremely quickly. Brady has been sacked seven times in five games this season.

“It’s going to be fun getting after him,” Steelers leading pass rusher Alex Highsmith said. “I’m confident we’ve got a good plan. It’s just that we’ve really got to lock in.”

Subscribe Today!

Subscribe today!

Steelers Now in Your Mailbox!

Enter your email address to get notifications of new posts in your mailbox.