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Thread: Steelers working to reduce number of sacks

  1. #1
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    Steelers working to reduce number of sacks

    Steelers working to reduce number of sacks
    For The Tribune-Democrat

    LATROBE — On the first walk-through of the first practice of the first work day of training camp, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running backs went into a corner of the field and worked on picking up blitzes.

    “That’s something we’re really going to emphasize this training camp: Picking up on all the blitzes and getting our hot reads down,” said Hines Ward.

    The Steelers must protect their quarterback, and for reasons beyond the $102 million investment they made in Ben Roethlisberger this offseason.

    “There’s a lot of hidden yardage in a sack,” Ward said.

    Multiply that hidden yardage by 53 and that’s what the Steelers lost in 17 games last season. It’s little wonder offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had his backs in one corner, his line on the far field, and his quarterback and receivers working on their hot reads in the middle.

    “The all-around whole package,” said Arians. “Every individual has to get better as a pass protector. The unit has to get better at recognizing, because it’s becoming very modern for defenses to run around on defense. They don’t just line up and tell you we’re going to kick your (butt). It’s confusion, so it’s very difficult in that sense. Luckily, we’re one of the teams that do it, so we get to see it a lot.”

    The Steelers have an incredible cache of offensive talent, but it won’t mean anything unless they can block the other team. Arians estimated that the offensive line was responsible for about 30 of those sacks last season. He put “four or five” on the running backs and the same amount on the tight ends. Arians said 15 sacks were caused by “the quarterback trying to create plays.”

    But Arians said he wouldn’t attempt to change anything there, because Roethlisberger has the scrambling ability and arm strength to escape and heave a pass downfield. Last year it helped him set a team record with 32 touchdown passes.

    Still, Roethlisberger was asked if he could improve upon that sack-to-touchdown pass ratio.

    “I know it’s only Day 1,” he said, “but I tried in minicamp to get better at it. You’d see a couple times a day I threw it away instead of trying to make a play, but it isn’t a game, so you never know.

    “I like to make plays; I like to be competitive. I’ll try and be smart out there, but not at the sacrifice of big plays because we’ve had a lot of them in my career.”

    So the running backs picked up blitzers, and the receivers worked on reading defenses. Arians liked what he saw.

    “Our entire third-down period was blitz pickup,” he said. “The first play was a great read by Ben and Hines and we got a first down on, really, a complicated blitz, so they obviously have been doing their homework.”

    Arians won’t add more three-step drops by his quarterback. He doesn’t like the risk involved.

    “Most of that stuff is an audible anyway,” he said. “Because if you call a three-step drop and you catch Cover 2, you really don’t have anywhere to throw the ball. So what you normally do is a couple plays. Say you call a running play. If they’re overloaded on the run, and the receivers are single-covered, you can throw the ball quick. Just don’t get it picked.”

    As for Roethlisberger, Arians said his quarterback is growing every day.

    “He just keeps working,” Arians said. “We probably threw more interceptions in the spring than we had in the previous two years because we were experimenting. It was like, ‘Ok, see if you can fit the ball in this hole,’ because you’ll never know if you don’t try, and if you get a pick, heck with it. We don’t like interceptions, but we have to evolve that way, too.”

  2. #2
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    Re: Steelers working to reduce number of sacks

    I, for one, am very glad they are making this a priority. If this year is anything like last, my TV will not last.

    Thanks for the article, btw.
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