Steelers: Pass defense still needs improvement
By Jack Tolman
Midway through the season, the Steelers are in pivotal position to make a playoff run down the stretch, despite the tough schedule and crowded wild card race.
One of the biggest surprises throughout the first half of the season has been the defense, originally thought to be the downfall to Pittsburgh this year, they have become the glue that has held the team together through an injury plagued season.
Contrary to the team’s history, the Steelers are now all about the offense. Though, the season has seen the Steelers dealing with suspensions, and injuries on a weekly basis, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Yet, throughout all of this, the Steelers have managed to stay alive thanks to the improvements on defense.
The Steelers are ranked 5th in the league in points allowed per game with under 20. They also are the 5th ranked team in terms of stopping the run, and rank 4th in the league in sacks.
The defensive line has become a very strong force for Pittsburgh, and has been applying pressure all season.
Sadly, the pass defense has been as flimsy as promised, and could ruin the hope for a 7th Super Bowl title in 2015.
Last week, Pittsburgh allowed Johnny Manziel, a quarterback who had never thrown for more than 200 yards in a game, to march over the pass defense with 372 passing yards.
While it may seem the defense has drastically improved, and it definitely has improved, there is still much improvement to be made, and if it hasn’t been for the stout red zone defense, the Steelers could have lost many of the games they squeaked out.
Some might argue that the reason for the massive yards gained are because the growing defensive line has forced teams to resort to the pass, making them one dimensional, but allowing 300+ passing yards every game is not just that, but an inability to stop the pass.
One reason the pass defense may be floundering might be the amount of blitzes that Keith Butler has instilled into the playbook, hoping to apply enough pressure to prevent quarterbacks from having the time to make intelligent decisions.
For the most part, it has worked, but it has also allowed receivers to fly free, and plays to be made.
Pittsburgh’s defensive players have stepped up and stated their disappointment to the public on multiple occasions, one being safety Will Allen who said that “These last few weeks-300 yards per game-isn’t good for me.”
With how the defense has been playing in the red zone, and how the defensive line has improved, it’s by no means a panic to say that the Pittsburgh secondary still needs improvements, but it’s fact.
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The Steelers currently have enough going for them to at least make it to the playoffs, but if Pittsburgh wants to make a playoff run, and possibly acquire a 7th Super Bowl trophy, the pass defense simply must improve.