The Steelers secondary was phenomenal in 2019, but there is still one clear weak link in the back end. Can they fix this in 2020?
After years of suffering through subpar performances in the secondary, the Steelers finally put together one of the best groups of defensive backs they have seen in decades.
Pittsburgh’s trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick early in the season put this group over the top and gave them an elite playmaker in the back end of their defense. Steven Nelson proved to be an excellent signing last offseason. He and Joe Haden made terrific duo at cornerback, and they combined to allow just 4 touchdowns in 2019.
Still, with all of the talent currently in the Steelers secondary, there is one player who was the clear “weak link” in the back half of their defense this season – strong safety, Terrell Edmunds.
Passer rating allowed against players in #Steelers secondary in 2019:
Minkah Fitzpatrick: 43.1
Cameron Sutton: 52.1
Joe Haden: 60.9
Steven Nelson: 66.6
Mike Hilton: 84.8
Terrell Edmunds: 139.1
One clear weak spot here this season… #steelersnation
— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) January 7, 2020
Edmunds, a former 1st round pick by Pittsburgh in 2018, has been a huge disappointment early in his career and has taken a step back in his second NFL season. Though he allowed just 59.5 percent of passes to be completed his direction last year for an 83.0 passer rating, Edmunds managed to allow 72.5 percent of passes to be completed in 2019 for a 139.1 passer rating.
Edmunds was responsible for giving up multiple deep passes down the field and as a safety, he shamefully allowed 5 passing touchdowns on his watch.
In addition to allowing receivers manhandle him, the former 1st round pick was no threat to take the ball away. Despite playing 1,036 defensive snaps for the Steelers this year (96 percent) Edmunds had zero interceptions, forced fumbles, or fumble recoveries. In fact, the former Virginia Tech product has intercepted the ball just once over his 31 NFL starts.
— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) January 9, 2020
Even defensive backs Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton were excellent when called upon this season. And with a defense that was fantastic at pressuring the quarterback, Edmunds’s lack of production and splash plays in 2019 is entirely inexcusable.
Edmunds is still on his rookie deal, and the Steelers are locked into him for at least two more years. It’s sickening to think that Pittsburgh passed on Lamar Jackson (my 9th overall player from 2018) to take a safety many believed was a 2nd or 3rd round prospect entering the draft.
Terrell Edmunds is still just 22 years old, and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, after what we have seen from him this past season doesn’t bode confidence in Steelers fans. If he doesn’t start improving soon, the former 1st round pick could be running out of opportunities in Pittsburgh.