Steelers defense must improve


While the Steelers offense appears to be preparing for a dominate season, the defense struggled once again against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Relax, it’s still preseason.  The combination of a unit peppered with several new starters and the implementation of a defense by new defensive coordinator Kevin Butler leaves us with a team that desperately needs to gel before the start of the regular season.

We need to pay less attention to players like B.W. Webb, who whiffed on a tackle by making the fundamental mistake of lowering his eyes, or Gerod Holliman who drew a blatant penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.  Players trying desperately to make the 53 man roster are going to make mistakes.  They are bubble players.  They are going to be more aggressive than fundamentally sound out of a need to make the big play.  That aggression often leads to mistakes.

What we should be concerned about are the players like Shamarko Thomas, who still hasn’t grasped the concept of assignment responsibility.   Webb can’t be blamed for the 41 yard touchdown to tight end Clay Harbor.  Thomas was out of position and couldn’t recover in time to help Webb out.

Also of some concern was the play of young outside linebackers Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree.  Biting on play action and over pursuing seemed to be the standard for the evening.   Both players need to use the next three games to learn to see the field with anticipation and to keep containment.

On a positive note, some of the older players showed up.   William Gay broke up an early pass by undercutting the route.  James Harrison and Arthur Moates both providing  positive quarterback pressure. The savvy and experience of veterans are going to be valuable commodities until the young players get a better grasp of the game. 

The savvy and experience of veterans are going to be valuable commodities until the young players get a better grasp of the game.

There is no reason to panic at this point.  Preseason is a time to iron out the wrinkles.  It’s when young players like Thomas, Jones, and Dupree should make their mistakes and learn from them.  Preseason is when these young players need to learn to trust that their teammates will always be in their assigned position and they need to earn the right to be trusted in return.

If the season opens with fundamental mistakes by young players who are being relied upon to step up, then its a whole different conversation.  Until then, lets watch for improvement.

Next: Steelers Morning Huddle

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