Steelers Hope Defense Will Record Takeaways Soon
Mandatory Credit: Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sports
While many will blame the entirety of Pittsburgh’s early-season woes on their offense, the inability of their defense to create splash plays and take the ball away has done nothing to prevent the Steelers from starting the season with an 0-3 record.
From his comments below, starting free safety Ryan Clark seems to feel the same way on the subject:
"That’s part of our job [forcing turnovers], we haven’t done that, … You can see how significant and big a part turnovers play just by watching this game. The turnovers they created [Chicago Bears] definitely helped them win the game and we didn’t create any. It’s definitely on the defense. We need to do more, but we’ve been saying that each and every week.-Ryan Clark (via Ray Fittipaldo of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)"
As bad as turning the ball over nine times is for a team’s offense, not recording a single takeaway on defense during the aforementioned stretch is just as terrible. I have highlighted the defense’s struggles to create turnovers during the last two-plus years, and the Steelers have not avoided or solved the issues which have recently plagued them.
Whether Pittsburgh’s defense needs to improve their pass-rush, eliminate as many “2nd & 3rd and manageable” situations for opposing offenses, capitalize on any and every tipped/loose ball, or some combination of all three, the unit must begin to force takeaways if they wish to salvage the rest of their 2013 season.
Luckily for the Steelers, the Minnesota Vikings have been quite the turnover-prone team during their first three games this year. Only the New York Giants (13) have turned the ball over more than the Vikings have (10) in 2013, and their quarterback Christian Ponder is responsible for six of those 10.
In addition to their “giveaways,” Minnesota’s offensive line has performed just as piss-poorly as Pittsburgh when it has come pass-protection this year. Ponder has already been sacked 10 times (as many as Ben Roethlisberger) through his team’s first three games, and the quarterback suffered a rib injury last Sunday against Cleveland.
Pittsburgh’s defense must find ways to help their still-struggling offense, and do so before they drop to 0-4 or worse.
The best way that they can support their teammates on the offensive side of the ball is if they are able to create extra possessions for them. Thus, chipping in with some takeaways for “Big Ben & co.” would definitely help the Steelers turn things around before their upcoming bye week.
Of course, talking about turnovers and actually recording them are two completely different things.
Stats & Info. Provided By: ESPN.com, Steelers.com and Pro Football Reference
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