Steelers Scouting Report: Week Six versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Steel City Underground’s “Steelers Scouting Report” is a preview of each opponent Pittsburgh will face throughout the 2022-23 NFL regular season on a weekly basis, with analysis, injury news, and potential key matchups.

The Pittsburgh Steelers come off of a Week Five loss to the Buffalo Bills that will be remembered for years to come, and is perhaps Mike Tomlin’s most embarrassing loss during his tenure as the Steelers’ Head Coach. The 38-3 smackdown, courtesy of the Bills, may only to rivaled by the loss against the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round of the 2020 season; a botched first snap over Ben Roethlisberger‘s head, giving up 35 points in the first half, Maurkice Pouncey in tears on the bench after the game, and ending a 26-year playoff drought for the Dawg Pound.

However, this time around, the Steelers will not have an entire offseason to lick their wounds. This time, they have to come back the next week and welcome Tom Brady‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Acrisure Stadium on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a myriad of miscues and a plethora of problems to address on both sides of the ball, and with the Week Nine BYE feeling like two lifetimes from now, Tomlin and the Steelers will have to adapt on the move as the gauntlet continues this Sunday against the “GOAT”. Going into Sunday’s matchup, we take a closer look at the Buccaneers.

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Bucs offense

Somehow, someway, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. is still playing in the NFL and playing at a high level. At age 45 and in his 23rd year in the league, Brady is tied for 1st in pass completions (141), 4th in completion percentage (68.1%), 3rd in yards (1,409), 3rd in yards per game (281.8), and 9th in passer rating (96.5).

Statistically far from average, not showing any signs of decline in arm strength, and still the best in the league at moving inside of the pocket, the struggling Steelers defense is going to have their work cut out for them with Brady still playing like Brady on Sunday.

While number 12 has given Steelers fans night terrors for decades, Mike Evans (13) and Chris Godwin (14) will be the ones giving the Steelers secondary nightmares on Sunday. Evans is still one of most unique physical freaks in the NFL and Brady is bound to test stretching the field against this Steelers secondary. Meanwhile, Godwin has carved out a consistent number one receiver role in this Buccaneers offense, providing Brady with an athletic, dynamic route runner who can always work underneath and the middle of the field.

The Steelers defense will also need to keep track of who is in the backfield for the Buccaneers, with the potential of a two-headed monster emerging out of Tampa Bay.

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You have the ol’ battleship Leonard Fournette still as the lead back, but watch out for rookie third-round running back Rachaad White out of Arizona State. White has begun to earn the trust of his team and his quarterback over the start of the season, with noted snap increases for the dual-threat back on a week to week basis; seeing as much as 39% of the snaps in last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has allowed the 3rd most yards per game (416.8), 2nd most passing yards per game (287.6), 10th most rushing yards per game (129.2), and are tied-6th for most points allowed per game (25.6).

It feels like a pick your poison scenario for the Steelers defense this season without T.J. Watt. Personally, I’d rather get beat by Fournette and White’s ground and pound as opposed to watching the “GOAT” dice up the secondary all afternoon.

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Bucs defense

Outside of a disappointing performance against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, in primetime, playing like men possessed with a chip on their shoulders, this Tampa Bay defense has not allowed more than 15 points in a game this season.

A dominant front seven is led by the “Tongan Terror” Vita Vea at nose tackle. The Bucs are also anchored by the dynamic duo of veteran linebacker Lavonte David and young star Devin White.

This is a defense that has played together for several years now and displays the chemistry to prove it on the back end. Three quality cornerbacks in Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting mix with the likes of safeties Antione Winfield Jr., and Mike Edwards roaming in the secondary.

Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett will have to be sure to be careful with the football when challenging this talented secondary on Sunday.

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One last name on the defensive front to watch out for on Sunday from the Bucs is outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (9). The second-rounder from Washington is an impressive athlete who spent a large part of last season sitting behind veteran pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, but with JPP’s departure from Tampa this last offseason, Tryon-Shoyinka is poised to become a key piece to this already intimidating Buccaneers defense.

Tryon-Shoyinka brings a combination of speed, versatility, and strength that has only been seen in recent years with outside linebackers in the NFL, such as T.J. Watt, Micah Parsons, Shaquille Leonard, and Von Miller.

I’m not saying that we will see Tryon-Shoyinka join the likes of these elite superstars, but this is the type of player that he fits into and could even develop into over time. Watch for the second year linebacker to cause some headaches for the Steelers on Sunday.

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Wednesday, October 12th

Full Participant (FP), Limited Participant (LP), Did Not Practice (DNP)

Thursday, October 13

  • TE Cameron Brate (Concussion) – FP
  • WR Jaelon Darden (Tooth) – FP
  • CB Carlton Davis (Hip) – FP
  • S Mike Edwards (Elbow) – LP
  • WR Russell Gage (Ankle) – LP
  • DL William Gholston (Rest_ – DNP
  • WR Chris Godwin (Hip/Knee/Rest) – DNP
  • DT Akiem Hicks (Foot) – DNP
  • WR Julio Jones (Knee) – DNP
  • CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (Quad) – DNP
  • OLB Carl Nassib (Illness) – FP
  • WR Breshad Perriman (Knee/Hamstring) – FP
  • S Logan Ryan (Foot) – DNP
  • T Donovan Smith (Elbow) – LP

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, October 12th at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern) at Acrisure Stadium on FOX (broadcasters: Joe Davis or Brandon Gaudin on play-by-play, Daryl Johnston as analyst, and Pam Oliver reporting).

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