First off, let me say being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan hasn’t been this upsetting in an awfully long time, but with the recent four-game skid by the Steelers, it’s hard not to worry about this team. The offense truly is one of the best in the NFL when it’s hitting on all cylinders and they have at times this season, but the Pittsburgh defense continues to let the team down time after time in crucial moments. We saw it twice in the Dallas game when rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott ran for two touchdowns almost untouched, as well as the 50-yard bomb to Dez Bryant that really altered the game.
The secondary is again a problem in Pittsburgh even after drafting two defensive backs in the first two rounds in the most recent draft. Both Artie Burns and Sean Davis have had moments where they looked fantastic but a rookie blunder by Davis against the Cowboys more or less cost Pittsburgh the game on a crucial facemask call with about 40 seconds left. The defense has looked good at times and then there are times where it looks like they can’t stop a nosebleed. Something needs to change on this Pittsburgh defense.
So let’s start on the defensive line, Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and rookie Javon Hargrave has all been somewhat solid all season. Heyward did miss some time with a leg injury which really hurt the Steelers, Tuitt has really improved his game and his endurance, he hasn’t missed a snap since the New England game about a month ago now playing 11 straight quarters, and finally, Hargrave, he hasn’t shown much in terms of sacks yet this season but he’s young and still adjusting to the NFL life. These guys have been the most consistent of the entire defense and even still they haven’t been great.
As far as linebackers go they have struggled immensely. Jarvis Jones started out the season looking for a new contract and through the first couple of weeks he looked good but has really subsided since then, Ryan Shazier has been the true bright spot as far as linebackers go. He has the speed and potential to be one of the very best inside linebackers in the NFL that can cover slot receivers and big tight ends. Even while he did miss a couple of weeks due to injury you can tell he makes a huge difference when in there. Lawrence Timmons has seemed to have lost a step somewhere down the line and that is playing a huge factor in the defensive struggles.
Finally, the secondary, boy have they looked rough at times. They started out relatively well this season holding AJ Green to only 38 receiving yards, and Brandon Marshall to 50 yards with a TD that Marshall ripped out of Ross Cockrell’s arms. But then they have games like these past two weeks that they look absolutely atrocious in. Mike Wallace had almost 200 yards receiving against the Steelers in the Ravens week 9 win over Pittsburgh, and this past week Dallas receiver Dez Bryant had over 150 yards.
So how can a team go from being so good against two of the best in the game to this? Artie Burns has had his fair share of rookie blunders, as has Sean Davis which is expected. William Guy has proved once again to be old reliable and not giving up huge plays, the safeties in Robert Golden and Mike Mitchell have actually been surprisingly good, but they still all give up too many big plays. The secondary tends to look bad due to the front seven not getting pressure on the quarterback and again it proves true as the Steelers aren’t getting the sacks like we’re accustomed to seeing. Blitzburgh is no more for whatever reason and I blame this solely on defensive coach Keith Butler. That’s right I’m calling you out Butler now show us this defense is no pushover