The Steelers hit the road for a primetime showdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, facing a team that is off to a fast start, while the Steelers are searching for their first win of the season.
But the 0-1-1 record doesn’t fool the Bucs, who know the Steelers are an explosive team.
“Defending (Ben) Roethlisberger and the offensive attack that they have is going to be a big challenge,” said Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
The Bucs also weighed in on Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, T.J. Watt and more.
Hearing from the Bucs:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter on what he expects from the Steelers:
“They’re not off to a slow start offensively if you look at their numbers, and then even defensively – we’ll start on that side – they’re second in the league in sacks with eight. They led the league last year with 56 or 57. They’re allowing 30 percent third down conversions which is out of sight. If that held up, that would lead the league or be right in the top two. They play – they’re a true 3-4 defense. This isn’t one of those teams that just says they’re 3-4 – they really are a 3-4 team. Those outside backers are very versatile players – (T.J.) Watt and (Bud) Dupree. They’re rushers, they’re droppers, they’re zone exchangers, they’re ends in sub. They are very stout inside (with) their defensive ends that become defensive tackles in sub.
“Then you move over to the other side of the ball – they’re lighting it up. Ben Roethlisberger, 15th year, going to be a Hall of Fame quarterback. We talk about in our division with Drew Brees going to be a Hall of Fame quarterback, but Ben will be a Hall of Fame quarterback. And then those two receivers – (Antonio) Brown as good as there is in the league. (JuJu) Smith-Schuster, a young guy, extremely explosive. They target those two guys. The tight end is a good player. This is a good football team They’re all good, but these guys are really good.”
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul on what stands out to him about Ben Roethlisberger:
“Big Ben – obviously he’s going to be a future Hall of Famer. He’s going to be in the Hall of Fame one day. He’s a great quarterback – hard to bring him down. You’ve got to get two hands on him – it (isn’t) just an arm tackle.”
Mike Smith on Antonio Brown:
“He’s very tough. They’ve thrown the ball 99 times in the first two games. The two receivers have 60 of the targets. He and Smith-Schuster are the two guys that they’re going to try to get the ball in their hands. They do it in a number of ways. It’s not always taking the top off the defense, which both of those guys are capable of doing. They’re also very effective in the screen game. I saw an interesting graphic about where the balls were being thrown there and there were a lot of them underneath, but we know he can take the top off a defense.”
Koetter on how aggressive the Steelers are when it comes to blitzes:
“They were pretty aggressive against Kansas City last week. They do have a lot of different packages that they not only use out of their base 3-4 (defense), out of their nickel, out of their dime. They move guys around a lot. Kansas City did a good job of spreading them out. Sometimes the extra blitzer couldn’t get there in time.”
Wide receiver Mike Evans on the Steelers defensive style:
“They’re a 3-4 team. They give you different looks. It’s only Week 2 of the season – going into Week 3 now – we just (have) to worry about us because they do a lot of tricky things. If we worry about what we do, we’ll be fine.”
Koetter on what part of Roethlisberger’s game is toughest to defend:
“All of it. Almost impossible to sack him. Underrated as a scrambler. He has great guys on the outside. He communicates via hand signals. He can stand there flat footed and throw it 65 yards down the field. Their screen game, their underneath game and their crossing routes. All of it. Very difficult to stop.”
Tight end O.J. Howard on the biggest challenge facing the Steelers:
“The matchups. We’ve got to win our one-on-one matchups and we’ve got to continue and block well in the passing game – give our quarterbacks opportunities to make plays. Blocking the run game – it just all comes down to the little things we do and do it well.”