Jimmy Clausen could be in for long night

December, 23, 2010
12/23/10
1:00
PM ET
A very wise former flag-football player once had this to say about Carolina quarterback Jimmy Clausen: “He ain’t in Notre Dame anymore, that’s for sure.’’

I’ll take it one step further, clean up the grammar just slightly and point out that Clausen isn’t facing the Arizona Cardinals anymore.

In fact, the rookie is starting against the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight. Other than having a staff featuring a few former Pittsburgh assistants, the Cardinals haven’t been confused with the Steelers this year.

Let’s cut to the chase and say it: Arizona’s a bad football team. Pittsburgh is a very good one, particularly on defense. So don’t get too carried away about Clausen completing 13 of 19 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in a seven-point home win against Arizona.

Reality could come back tonight and it’s pretty fair to assume the Steelers will attempt to blitz Clausen often. The Steelers do that with everybody and they’ll probably do it even more in an offense that was passed down from Fred Flintstone to coordinator Jeff Davidson.

That means there is the potential for things to get really ugly. When using five or more pass-rushers, the Steelers have an NFL-best 22 sacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Steelers have been pretty productive on defense when they send five or more rushers. Opponents have completed 55.1 percent of their passes for 6.7 yards per attempt with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions while compiling a 72.5 passer rating.

How has Clausen fared against the blitz this season? Well, I won’t even offer an adjective to describe it because the numbers say it all. When facing five or more rushers, Clausen has completed 43.5 percent of his passes while averaging 4.9 yards per attempt. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass when being blitzed. But I guess the good news is that he’s only been intercepted once off a blitz. His passer rating in those situations is 54.1.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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