The Steelers defense needs reinforcements at almost every position
For the 2023 regular season, the Steelers defense finished with the twenty-first ranking in average yards allowed per game. On the flip side, we finished with the sixth-best ranking in terms of average points allowed per game.
At times, the defense looked like the venerable Steel Curtain. Conversely, at times, the defense was analogous to the aluminum foil defense. The bend, don't break style of defense that we seemingly played all season long finally broke against the Bills.
Without T.J. Watt in the lineup, the lack of consistent pressure was evident. Without Watt, we could not stop the run as evidenced by the fact that we gave up one hundred and seventy-nine yards on the ground.
All season long the defense was dealing with injuries to key players. The loss of Watt was not the only reason we weren't able to stop the run, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that with Watt in the lineup, the defense just plays better than without him in the lineup.
The loss of one player should not dramatically change the 'look and feel' of a defense, hence the reason I say that we need reinforcements at almost every position, particularly the linebacker position.
Both inside and outside linebacker are positions of need, if you ask me. If we continue to deploy a base 3-4 defense, having four viable inside linebackers coupled with four viable outside linebackers is a necessity, not a luxury.
What's also a necessity, not a luxury is having defensive linemen who are stout against the run, but have pass-rush upside. For the most part, I think we have D-linemen who fit that description, but you can never have too many quality D-linemen.
The same can not be said of the secondary. I would argue that we probably need an almost complete overhaul of that unit. Without naming names as I do not believe it is appropriate for this discussion, I would argue that we have a 'handful' of quality defensive backs.
A 'handful' does not a unit make. With only seven draft picks in the upcoming draft, we simply have too many needs to address via the draft, but that's probably a discussion for another time. Since we have off, so to speak, until the draft, I'm sure there will be plenty of time for debate.
Let's see what else the playoff loss could mean for the 2024 season.