The Pittsburgh Steelers’ dime package is something to watch this season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers head into the season having not drafted a safety early, something the team explored in the pre-draft process. This may lead the Steelers to make their dime package look different than last year. In 2016, the Steelers primary dime package included three corners and three safeties. There are a number of personnel reasons why a dime package with four cornerbacks may be more appropriate.
The biggest question mark coming into this season in terms of personnel is Senquez Golson. Golson was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Ole Miss. Despite height limitations, Golson had a good broad jump at the combine and lead the SEC in interceptions his last year of college football. However, Golson has been injured the past two seasons and has not played in a single preseason or regular season game.
The Steelers may have a second slot option for the dime defense already in William Gay. Many have questioned the future of William Gay as he is over 30-years-old. This is an age where defensive backs tend to lose their speed and agility. However, over the past four years, William Gay has been the Steelers best corner in my opinion. I think his job as the slot corner is safer than others covering the Steelers project.
These two corners may be better than whatever third safety the Steelers could put out there. This third and long defense is a weakness for the Steelers in past years. An upgrade like Senquez Golston could sure up the defense in obvious passing situations.
The Steelers experimented with Robert Golden as their third safety, but I think it is safe to say he is not the answer as a dime back. Jordan Dangerfield has shown some solid play when called upon, but I don’t think he has the upside that Golson has. He may be the option as the league is emphasizing move tight ends more in today’s NFL.
Another reason the dime package may want to be improved is that the Steelers lost Lawrence Timmons. Although Timmons is on the downside of his career, he is still an upgrade over the Steelers newly promoted inside linebacker Vince Williams. Vince Williams is presumed to be the other starter at inside linebacker with Ryan Shazier as Lawrence Timmons is now a Miami Dolphin.
The alternative to my proposal is that newly signed Daimion Stafford be the third safety in the Steelers dime package. He does have experience in Dick Lebeau’s defense as the third safety and spot starter for the Tennessee Titans. You have to think Keith Butler’s assignments and Dick Lebeau’s assignments are not that different. Either way, a Golson comeback could really help the Steelers defense in obvious passing situations.