There’s a Good Chance Steelers Will Go After Cody Grimm All Day

When the NFL schedule came out last spring, I gave it a quick once-over, doing what every fan does: going from one game to the next and making a mental note of wins and losses. At the time, I penciled Pittsburgh in for a W against their Week 3 opponent, Tampa Bay.

That initial hunch didn’t change after Big Ben’s punishment became official days before the start of the season, or now that the team is on quarterback No. 4. Of course, I’m a homer; I think the Steelers are going 16-0 every year. Whatever, so far so good. Pittsburgh’s 2-0 despite their offense, and barring an injury between now and Sunday at 1 PM, Charlie Batch will be under center.

I wrote earlier today that despite going 5 of 11 for 25 yards against the Titans last week, Batch could just as easily have been 9 of 11 with a touchdown pass. (That said, even with nine completions Charlie would’ve still struggled to hit triple digits in passing yards.) He gets another shot Sunday and, according to Football Outsiders’ team efficiency rankings, he’ll do it against the league’s fourth-best defense. (You get one guess at who’s No. 1. If you guessed Ravens, please punch yourself in the face. Twice.)

A couple things:

First, the Steelers’ first two opponents, the Falcons and the Titans, have the seventh- and second-ranked defenses, respectively, so it’s not like Pittsburgh’s offense hasn’t been challenged yet. (By the way, not sure you can use the word “challenged” to describe a unit that has mustered one touchdown — in OT, no less — in eight-plus quarters.)

Second, starting free safety Tanard Jackson has been suspended for 16 games because he likes failing league-sanctioned drug tests. Which means that the Bucs will start Cody Grimm in Jackson’s place.

In case you didn’t know (and you almost certainly didn’t), some background on the new Bucs’ safety: Grimm is Russ’s son, he was a walk-on at Virginia Tech, and a last-minute addition to the NFL Combine last February. He’s a rookie listed at 6-1, 203 pounds, which means he’s really 5-10, 190, and he ran the 40 in 4.63 seconds. Those numbers, coupled with his pedigree, inevitably leads to coachspeak hyperbole to make up for his physical shortcomings. Like, say, this scouting report from the spring:

“Tough kid who plays bigger than his measurables. Reads fast and has a nose for the ball. Takes good pursuit angles and is a technically sound tackler. Reads quarterback’s eyes dropping in zone coverage and can jump underneath routes. Athletic enough to stick with tight ends in man coverage.”

Those were the positives. These were the negatives: “Lacks adequate height and bulk and does not have the top end speed to make plays all over the field. Struggles to disengage from blockers and can be blown out of the play. Does not locate balls in the air well and will not make picks. A bit stiff in the hips and will be exposed by wide receivers at the next level in man coverage.”

So, right, about what you’d expect out of a rookie with little chance of making the roster. And it also explains Bucs Nation’s measured take on Grimm shortly after he was drafted (pay special attention to the job they do cutting through the bullshit).

What does this mean for the Steelers offense? Well, I guess it depends on what Bruce Arians is willing to do. And more than that, what the personnel will allow him to do. Left tackle Max Starks is apparently on track to return, although Doug Legursky might replace Trai Essex at right guard. Then there’s the heat, which could mean another day of musical chairs along the o-line. This could mitigate Jackson’s loss, especially if the Bucs are able to generate a pass rush with their front four.

Then again, a few “throw it as far as you can and see what happens” from Batch to Wallace can’t hurt, either. In fact, I’m all for it, starting with the first series. What’s the worst that can happen? An interception? (Also acceptable: “Charlie might break into a million tiny pieces,” although that sorta craps all over my point.) That’s a risk I’m willing to take with this defense vs. an inexperienced Josh Freeman and a one-dimensional Bucs offense.

Plus, remember when a subset of Steelers Nation was clamoring for Anthony Smith to start over Ryan Clark? (I’ve been on the wrong side of plenty of arguments, which is why I’d like to point out that I’ve always been pro-Clark in Pittsburgh). One of the issues brought up time and again was that a rookie has no business playing free safety in the Steelers defense. It’s too complicated, there’s too much going on, and as literally the last line of defense, you’re guaranteed at least one large f-up a game.

An even better example: Troy Polamalu. I’m not sure how he could have looked more confused his rookie season and he was a strong safety. He was so out of sorts that he couldn’t beat out Mike Logan. Think about that for a second. (Coulda been worse; Chris Hope couldn’t beat out Brent Alexander.)

Now that I’ve established what everybody pretty much took as given, what’s the point in all this? I don’t have one, really. Just that you have to think the Steelers will be attacking Grimm all day, both through the air and on the ground. You know, similar to how Pittsburgh’s 2009 opponents exploited William Gay so often that I was willing to have Dick LeBeau play with just 10 guys.

Put another way: this is what a scouting report looks like when it’s not written by somebody who actually pays attention to details (like, say, JJ or Ted). Hey, you get what you pay for.

(Then again, don’t underestimate Cody’s need to prove all the doubters wrong. He’s probably got a HUGE chip on his shoulder because he’s a coach’s son who has been told his entire career that he was too small or too slow to play football. Oh, and his old man is still pissed about getting hosed out the Steelers job — Cody’s also playing to right that wrong. Then again, if Grimm had gotten the gig, Pittsburgh might be a completely different team right now.)

In case it’s not obvious, that last paragraph was a joke.

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  • eddie

    if we come out with 5-wide’s at any point in the first two series in tampa, i’m gonna punch something…

    let me ask a question, then answer it:
    why is twaan the #3 receiver?
    well, we need a deep ball to loosen up the tampa defense so we can run… so let’s call that reverse (SBXL) to twaan and let him launch one to hines (or wallace). that’ll keep the safeties outside the box…

    though if chaz tries to throw a block like big ben did on that play, twaan might have to stay in under center…

  • VTHokieFan

    Worst blog I’ve ever read. Cody Grimm “listed as 6’1 203 so probably 5-10 180″ ??? These players can’t skew their stats like you did back in high school on your JV football team. So Troy Polamalu’s listing of 5-10 207 really means he’s 5’7 184? What a joke.

    Then your ignorance continues when you simply quote previous idiots opinions, who probably generated their opinions reading from the idiots before them. Why don’t you watch some film and come up with your own? Or just keep taking the easy way out in life and enjoy living off that HUGE blog driven paycheck. (In case its not obvious, that last part was a joke)

    Then explain how many times you see someone run 40 yards straight down the field. I think change of direction, burst, and quickness are alot more important. The 20 yard shuttle for example, which Grimm was 2nd fastest in, out of the entire combine! He’s larger than the average FS in the league and I can assure you, much tougher.

    I’ve already wasted to much time at this horrible blog, but I’ll leave you with one question….explain to me how a team attacks a FS in the run game? Would love to hear that explanation.

    Hokie Pride.

    • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

      explain to me how a team attacks a FS in the run game? Would love to hear that explanation.

      From the post: “Then again, a few “throw it as far as you can and see what happens” from Batch to Wallace can’t hurt, either. In fact, I’m all for it, starting with the first series. What’s the worst that can happen? An interception? …That’s a risk I’m willing to take with this defense vs. an inexperienced Josh Freeman and a one-dimensional Bucs offense.”

      So, yeah, not sure where I wrote the Steelers were going to run the ball right down Cody Grimm’s throat … even though he’s 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.

      Dude, I understand you’re a Virginia Tech fan and you want to represent and whatnot, but I don’t think anybody would argue that a rookie 7th-round pick starting his first game is probably going to get picked on.

    • Simmerdown

      I’m sure Cody Grimm would have been the difference in the James Madison game…

    • Dean Keaton

      I’m also a Hokie fan, and watched Grimm with his strengths and liabilities for his career at Tech (not Vah-Tek as crappy announcers try to make it). So I personally wouldn’t say that the opinions of him being not so fast and perhaps on the small side for an NFL FS are at all off base. He may very well be the exact size he is listed, but those #s are inflated (or deflated – i.e. – CASEY HAMPTON) all the time on NFL roster listings.

      Grimm is a smart player that I actually think has a decent future in the NFL. He will probably never be John Lynch, but will be either a good backup or a low-end starter, if I had to guess. I’m actually a bit surprised he’s playing FS, and not SS, but whatever, the two have become more blurred in recent seasons in a lot of defenses, though I don’t know if the Tampa D falls into this category. Grimm will be tested, he’ll probably make some mistakes that will help the Steelers, but he will also likely make some solid plays too.

      VTHokieFan – I’m as pissed off as anyone about the crappy job Beamer has done in preparing VT teams for big games (BSU). We’re 1-18 against top 5 teams under Beamer… And I am also huge VT fan but see no need to go after someone else who is saying a 7th round rookie former VT guy is going to be targeted and is probably not the most talented guy out on the field.

      • Throwaway

        The Bucs actually use their safeties interchangeably. He’ll see time deep as well as close to the line of scrimmage.

    • Dodens Grav

      Do you feel like a jackass yet?

  • http://www.carlnatale.com/about-carl-natale/ Carl Natale

    Best line of the day: “starting free safety Tanard Jackson has been suspended for 16 games because he likes failing league-sanctioned drug tests.” Such an eloquent way to not libel someone.

    Worst line of the day: “I’ve already wasted to much time at this horrible blog, but I’ll leave you with one question….” If it’s such a waste of time, why do you read it and comment on it?

    Thanks for the fun read Ryan. It has me looking forward to seeing what Grimm does for the Steelers on Sunday.

  • VThokie

    Do you realize Cody Grimm was an All American linebacker in college? Um I think he is done a pretty good job on his own of “cutting through the bull”.

    • Dean Keaton

      Yes, 3rd Team All American

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