Steelers Need A Better Defensive Performance From Their Offense In Order To Make Playoffs

It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has struggled for a second consecutive season at getting turnovers and sacks. Those of course are two pretty big elements in winning football games, but outside of those glaring deficiencies the unit has not been awful.

Through the first 14 games of the 2012 regular season the Steelers defense ranks first in yards allowed per game (273.3), passing yards allowed per game (180.6), and first downs allowed per game (17.1). They rank second in yards allowed per play (4.63) and passing yards allowed per play (5.62), and fourth in rushing yards allowed per game (92.7) and rushing yards allowed per play (3.72). Even their 10th overall ranking on 3rd down conversions (36.46%) is respectable as well. Throw in on top of it that they have allowed a league low 29 plays of 20 yards or more and it really makes you wonder how this team is 7-7 and fighting for a playoff spot right now.

Outside of the aforementioned lack of turnovers and sacks, the Steelers offense and special team unit has made it very tough on the defense this season. The Steelers as a team have allowed 291 points this season with 114 of the points coming off of offensive turnovers, a punt block and a punt return for a touchdown.

The 27 giveaways this season is currently just 1 shy of the 28 that were given away last season by the team and that is nearly an average of two per game. Against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday the Steelers turned the ball over twice and it led to 10 points and the eventual overtime loss. The week before that it was two turnovers against the San Diego Chargers that led to 14 points and a loss.

While it still hard to praise a defense that has failed to help its own offense, it is important to keep in mind all of the injuries the unit has had to deal with this season. Starters James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark and Cortez Allen have all missed time this season with the first three still not being 100% since returning to the lineup. This is not to serve as an excuse mind you as I am just pointing out the facts. Sure, the offense has had its own share of injuries, but those injuries are not the reason for the fumbles and the interceptions.

The defensive sacks and the turnovers are unlikely to magically start improving in the last two regular season games so it will be up to the Steelers offense and special team units to play better defense instead by not turning over the ball and flipping the field more than they have been. This Steelers team is talented enough to not only win the remaining two games of the season, but also make a deep run in the playoffs. Turning the ball over twice a game on offense simply can\’t happen moving forward. If it continues to happen Sunday at Heinz Field against the Cincinnati Bengals the Steelers will not win the game and will not make the playoffs.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Probably the biggest issue this team has this year. While they have other issues, this is one that is hard to overcome when you have those issues.

    Offense Stats
    8 Turnovers is 7 wins
    19 Turnovers in 7 losses

    Defense Stats (created)
    8 Turnovers in 7 wins
    5 Turnovers in 7 losses

    We are even in games that we win, but minus 14 in the losses. That is HORRIBLE! If you look at just the last 5 games (granted the Clev. debacle is in there) you see a horrible trend. 18 turnovers given away to 4 turnover created. Even if you remove the Clev. game giveaways, you are still down 10-4. Teams cannot win doing things like that.

  • Bob Francis

    I also put the rough season largely on the offense. It’s not just turnovers, but turnovers at the worst possible times. And not flipping the field. And they also just cannot ever seem to dominate offensively – the pressure ALWAYS seems on the defense. Wouldn’t it be nice to start fast and lead games 10-0, 14-3, etc.? The games against the Jets and the ‘Skins are the only ones where they seemed to control the game and get up by a couple scores. Every other game has been down to the wire, and PIT seems to find ways to lose, not win.

  • kristopher Fine

    not only are we going to make the playoffs, but we are going to win the division! that probably isn’t going to happen, but at least it is still a possibility to make the playoffs and win the division after 7 losses.

    thoughts on our chances to:

    win division and make playoffs
    make playoffs
    not make playoffs

  • Guest

    let’s win the division! we still have a chance.

    thoughts on winning the division
    making playoffs
    not making playoffs.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    All i’m going to say is that with this week, it will prove a lot about our team.

  • Pete

    The defense has played stellar this season in spite of the all the injuries. The O is the reason the Steelers are losing many games. The biggest reason to me are the turnovers, the under performance of Wallace, Sanders and Brown, the inability to have a consistent running game due to the many injuries on the O line, and the time missed by Roethlisberger. It’s like the offense is in a fog.

    I hope the offense can put it together before the season ends.

  • Tim Culligan

    2 biggest areas (generally) of improvement for the offense / team are
    (a) Time of Possession
    (b) Turnover Margain
    …. in the beginning of the year they were great at keeping the ball for a long period of time, 33, 34 36 minutes a game. Lately tho theyve been on the opposite end of that battle. Turnovers are self explanatory. Defense hasn’t gotten them much at all this last season or in 2011, so any ones we get I view as a bonus. Its more important for the offense to hang onto the ball than the D to take it away, im not counting on that anymore.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Thats a kind way of saying fact is our offense stunk overall this year, & this year’s defense is not great enough to carry a bad offense.

    But Our D also needs more help from our SPECIAL TEAMS TOO – which cant tackle anyone. Backup LBs who’s job it is to make their names on STs, are silent. And why is it we’re one of the few teams unable to down punts inside the 5 yard line? We did one but it was way long ago. It shouldnt be hard to find a ST coach!

  • Mike Carroll

    Sure, the Steelers TOP the last several games has not been great. But, they are still 2nd in the league as of this week.

  • Mike Carroll

    I certainly agree the offense must hold onto the ball much better in order for this team to start winning more games. I say that mainly because the are tied for 27th worst in the league in giveaways, but also because they have no choice with the way the team is built.

    The defense hasn’t just struggled to get turnovers the last two years, they have been AWFUL. They are the 2nd worst team in the league in takeaways (Colts have one fewer) over the last 2 years. In the last 30 games the Steelers defense has 28 takeaways, less than 1 per game. Those numbers are pathetic.

    Unfortunately, I completely agree there is no reason to expect the defense to magically begin generating turnovers. I suppose this is partly due to the scheme, but it indicates a real lack of playmakers on the defense, old or new. In any event, for this team to win games, the offense must rank near the top in least giveaways, because the defense will continue to rank near the bottom in takeaways.

    One more thing, I think the special teams should be singled out as separate group, since their poor play this season has affected both offense and defense.

  • steeltown

    Turnovers… thats all I can say, that and turnover ratio… NO TEAM is going to win games when they consistantly turn the ball over every week. I have never seen a Team fumble the ball so much in a given season.. and yes a new Special Teams Coach is a must.