Lack of pressure against Steelers QB part of Bucs problem

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St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

St. Petersburg Times Staff Writer

The Steelers attempted 17 passes in their win over the Bucs on Sunday, but they made each one count.

One reason QB Charlie Batch was successful despite 12 completions was that he had plenty of time to sit in the pocket. The Bucs were held without a sack against a club that allowed the second most in the NFL in 2009.

Coach Raheem Morris, also defensive coordinator, said he drew up a defensive game plan that called for a minimal pass rush, ignoring the urge to blitz or attempt creative methods of bringing pressure after such tactics worked well at Carolina.

“Some of that was by design by me,” Morris said.

But why?

Morris said Batch’s history indicated the Bucs should have protected against quick throws and draw plays, the sort of calls that can burn a defense that blitzes. The problem was, the Steelers took advantage on a couple of occasions, using the lack of pressure to get WR Mike Wallace downfield, where he caught touchdowns of 46 and 41 yards.

“I second-guessed myself (Monday), too,” Morris said. “You have to. Maybe you do want to (pressure) them a little more. But the plan was, going into the game, when they play with Charlie, you see a lot of screens. There’s a lot of screens, a lot of draws, a lot of (plays) where the ball is coming out of his hand quickly.

“Obviously, if you blitz, you’re not going to get there for those plays. So we wanted to be in position to tackle them and cover them and get them down. … Usually those are the things that hurt you in the blitz. Last year in Atlanta, we called a blitz, and they hit a shovel pass on us that went for 40 yards. So we tried to play smart, and they got us.”

The Bucs’ base defensive line could not bring pressure when there wasn’t help via the blitz. And the secondary had players in position to thwart both long touchdowns, but FS Cody Grimm and CB Aqib Talibmissed interceptions.

Grimm failed to locate the ball despite being on Wallace’s hip, and Talib couldn’t corral a pass that hit his hands before ricocheting into Wallace’s hands.

“We have to make the plays,” Morris said. “That’s the first thing. … The other thing is, it was a calculated move on my part to drop more people (into coverage). If it was a mistake, then I’ll take that on my shoulders.

” … I’ll go out there with Aqib Talib on those same plays every day. And he’s going to go out most of the time, and he’s going to win for us.”

Shopping around: WithS Tanard Jackson’s yearlong suspension for violating league drug policy, the Bucs will spend part of this bye week evaluating potential additions at safety.

Morris didn’t name names, but one noteworthy player is Ken Hamlin, once a fearsome hitter for the Cowboys whose skills appear to have diminished. Hamlin was released by the Ravens last week.

“We continually evaluate the market and what’s there,” Morris said. “We’ll bring some people in to work out. It’s no indictment on Cody.”

Bad bye: The Bucs have the earliest possible bye in the NFL, which creates an issue with 13 consecutive games beginning Oct. 10 at Cincinnati. Morris would like to stage a couple of intense, physical practices, but he might have to use a different approach given the layout of the schedule.

“Anybody who has any nicks and strains and whatever the case may be, you kind of hold them out and take it easy on those guys and let those guys make it through (the season),” Morris said. “It’s about getting these guys to Sunday.

“We want to condition … and we want to lift weights so we can stay fit and all those things, but we’ll get those guys ready to go, and we’ll get ready for this long stretch that we have after the bye.”

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