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Rankings Be Damned – Steelers Defense Still Lacks Splash

The next time Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor decides to do an interview, I sure hope he leaves defensive rankings and stats out of it. Don’t get me wrong, I like Taylor as both a player and an individual, but the primitive rankings narrative has run its course.

When the week one games are completed Monday night, there is a good chance the Steelers defense will be ranked in the top five or better in the league as far as total yards go. And while their 2.7 yards per run average allowed looks great on paper, the Tennessee Titans 12 play, 49-yard drive that ended with a Jackie Battle touchdown run from three yards out right before halftime says otherwise.

On that drive, the Titans ran the ball 11 times for 41 yards, and they converted not only a third and short on the drive but a fourth and short as well.

The Steelers failure to create turnovers and multiple sacks in a game has now carried over into the 2013 season, and while there were a few opportunities to have some of both on Sunday, the sack by LaMarr Woodley was it against the Titans.

If the ineptitude of the Steelers offense continues until Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell are ready to play, and there is no reason right now to think that it won’t, a bend but don’t break performance by the defense will only result in another 8-8 record or worse.

Today’s NFL, as far as defenses go, is all about splash plays and those are plays that the Steelers defense continues to fail to make.

Primitive defensive rankings and stats sound good in interviews, but they don’t look good when you actually watch the game. For the Steelers sake, I hope that Taylor and the rest of the defense starts understanding this pretty soon.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • JT

    As pedestrian as Locker may be, he doesn’t make many mistakes. The Titans invested heavily in their O-line. Both of those showed up and made it hard to make any splash plays. The Titans were forced into no urgency. They wanted to run the ball, and stuck to it. They were able to deal with reasonable success running the ball because the Steelers offense couldn’t score or just flip the field.

  • steeltown

    We almost had a few picks via tipped passes and so forth, then losing C.Allen didn’t help. It was nice to see Woodley have a good game.

  • Buccos9

    A recent column on a national sports web site listed the top five NFL defenses as Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, Houston, and Chicago. You are not alone in your thinking.

  • Mkeller

    Shocking to see Allen go out of the game considering he’s been injured since he arrived in Pittsburgh 3 yrs ago.
    Ike Taylor is making 6 million this year……on what planet does that make any sense?

  • Pete

    The sack by Woodley was ok. But what I loved was the hit Jones put on Chris Johnson. Now that was a thing of beauty. Worilds should sit behind Jones. No question.

  • Jay Jaber

    I agree 100% jones play making is what we’re missing Jarvis needs to start I don’t care that he’s a rookie

  • steeltown

    Green Bay??…Clay Matthews is one of the best in the business, but otherwise they allowed 500+yds of Offense yesterday, ha!

  • steeltown

    I’ve always been a supporter of Worilds, but im starting to think the same

  • Bilgewater D

    I (thankfully) had to miss the game. How did J. Jones look outside of that one hit on Johnson?

  • Buccos9

    San Fran wasn’t much better either. I’m not saying I agree with the writer’s picks. One of the biggest flaws, in my view, with defensive rankings is that they use yards allowed as the measure. I think points allowed per game is a better measure of the quality of a defense.


    It’s not a dictating DEF anymore, but I think this front 7 will generate more pressure than LY which is where the turnovers are started…TN is not a good offensive team, so you can’t hang your hat on the stats from this game…overall the DEF play well enough to win.


    He looked pretty good in the snaps he had overall…they dropped him in coverage more than I would like, but he held up against the run…was near that ball the Troy almost picked.

  • Pete

    It depends on what criteria is used to determine rankings. By points allowed, they were 6th. By yds allowed passing #1, 1st downs allowed #1, yds allowed rushing #2. But they ranked #27 in defensive INT and #25 in defensive turnovers. Profootballreference 2012. So, yes the stats indicate there is room for improvement in INTs and fumble recoveries.

  • JIM

    The Steelers Defense plays too soft and do nothing to help the offense. They create NO TURNOVERS and constantly force the offense to start their drives in poor field position

  • Spencer Krick

    A thousand times this. Defenses get tired when your offense can’t get a first down.

  • joed32

    Gay held his own breaking up a couple of passes after Allen went out.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Even turnover stats are a little misleading…how many are actually converted into td’s, fg’s, or punts? that isn’t factored in its only + or -. It can actually deflate a defense’s effort/momentum by giving the ball to your offense only to see them punt it right back after 3 downs.

  • Xclewsive

    Only Steelers fans would be mad at their defense for given up 16 pts. There were a bunch of teams yesterday that would’ve won if their defense only gave up 16 pts. Yes splash plays are nice, but at the end of the day it’s about points. How bout this the offense at least scoring the league average.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Agreed 10 fold…Steelers are lucky the D is as good as it is. They could have easily gotten blown out of the game were it not for the solid D. Only thing the Defense could have done better is create a turnover and a TD.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Jones played almost as many snaps as Worilds. That play on Johnson was very instinctive and the type of play that I haven’t seen Worilds make. I’m okay with the rotation I think it makes all 3 better.

  • Jeff

    I kind of have to disagree with the article. With how BAD the offense was playing, it really allowed the titan’s offense to play things extremely conservative. When an offense plays things super conservative, it really is hard to turn the ball over. The Titans seemed to have no problem running the ball 3 straight times, punting, and playing the field position game once they had the lead. The steelers offense showed no signs of being able to come back, even struggling to get first downs. The defense is the only “positive” part of this team so far.

  • Dan

    We do lack splash, swagger, nastiness and a lot of things we need on defense(although you gotta admit Troy sure is fun to watch). I think until the offense climbs out of the toilet it will be hard for the defense to muster up any attitude and really step up. But our D is high quality overall. I think we did a very good job against the run for the most part…..but I’m not certain if we performed well or if CJ lost a step. He looked a little slow.


    Big plays will come!

  • Xclewsive

    CJ has been spooked of the Steelers since Timmons cleaned him up a few years ago. CJ is a finesse back that really doesn’t like contact.

  • charles

    What you mean is that the Titans controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.The D was not bad but Locker is a pedestrian qb. The offense of the Steelers was truly offensive, we should have been in the position to win it with the late drive.

  • charles

    Chff uses a ranking of how many yards the opposing team had to gain for each point.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    If we get a defensive performance like this every week we should be at least 12-4 this year(not the way the offense played this week). I agree we need splash plays and if we want to blame the defense for allowing 1 bad drive I think we are being too critical IMHO.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Remember Jones wasn’t blocked on the play. It wasn’t his doing but a mess up on the OL. He played 30 snaps…what else did he do?

  • Shannon Stephenson

    No question!!!

  • Bell Cow

    Well if this is Tomlin’s team then maybe should allow him to implement the Tampa 2 defense that’s he familiar with. Dallas transitioned from 34 to the tampa 2 and they created 6 turnovers last night. Just a thought..

  • Xclewsive

    They created those TOs against one of the most turnover prone QBs in the league. Dallas also got 24 pts from their offense. The Steelers get 24 pts yesterday and were aren’t having this discussion.

  • Reader783

    They played great, but they did let the Titans drive right down the field to score that TD. Sucked the life out of the stadium. The lack of turnovers is not helpful either, especially that fumble that sat in the middle of the field.

  • Andrew Alberico

    Steelers defense does not make splash plays because overall team speed is subpar. As is the quickness. I would sacrifice experience to gain youth and quickness. Play J. Jones, S. Thomas, V. Williams. The veterans are not going anywhere this year. Start using the younger players.

  • Bell Cow

    It’s just a thought if they want to create more turnovers. Tomlin was a great DB coach in Tampa and defensive coordinator in Minnesota. He comes from the Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffin coaching tree. If the team finishes with 6 wins or less, there will be lots of changes which may include coach L retiring. Hood and Heyward may be better suited as DTs in a 43. Timmons would be a great weakside linebacker in that scheme and both Woodley and Jarvis can play DE. It’s an outside the box thought, but it may be something they’ll consider moving forward with Tomlin.

  • falconsaftey43

    How about the offense helping the offense? Like with a 1st down? A couple of positive yards now and then? Points before the last 2 minutes of the game?
    I’m sick of people complaining about the Defense not helping the offense or not being dominate enough. Yes the Defense could be better, but it is pretty darn good this year and was last year as well. The truth is, the Offense is pathetic. We somehow have managed to have both a Franchise QB, and one of the worst offenses in the league.
    It’s plain and simple, the Offensive line has been bad despite high picks being invested there and the RBs are not productive. LSH can’t make his own holes behind this terrible line which got him injured, Redman is not suited to the outside zone which made him ineffectively try to bounce everything outside.
    This offense really needs to get it’s act together. If I was Ben, I’d seriously be thinking about demanding a trade to a team that has some semblance of an offensive line that is in need of a QB, because he is going to get killed behind ours and have no shot at another title, as it is becoming clear that the problems there will not be resolved anytime soon. I hope I am wrong, but I see no reason for optimism with this offense.
    The Defense is NOT the problem

  • 2443scott

    def held them to a low score we had chances to score we just didnt …i am not a fan of taylors…he made mistakes but so did a few others …after all was first game of season but they didnt let tenn run score up ….the lost belongs to offense and coaches who seem to still show same plays that every knows what happened to the zone running is my question running into a pile guys isnt a zone run….

  • Madi

    “Primitive stats and rankings sound good in interviews, but they don’t look good when you actually watch the game.”
    Um, am I the only one that still likes/appreciates good defense? I think it looks good. It looked good yesterday. We allowed one 49 yard touchdown drive. What losers…? It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good game. Our defense beat their offense yesterday, hands down. 16 points is good for any game, but when you consider the field position Tennessee had to get those points, it’s extremely good.
    Yeah, more sacks (overrated) and turnovers (not overrated, but less controllable) would be nice, but if our defense keeps other teams’ yards and points down, what exactly is the problem? I think maybe the problem is that our expectations of the offense are so low that we complain about our defense’s positive performance the day after our offense was essentially SHUT OUT against the TITANS.

  • Madi

    Same. I still like him, but Jones is special in a way Worilds isn’t. I’m fine with them rotating, but more Jarvis would be nice. Any rookie mistakes he makes will help his development, and be worth it anyway because of the plays he produces

  • Bob Loblaw

    You’re right, he wasn’t exactly in their backfield all game. On the other hand, what did Worilds do?

    I don’t think I’ve seen Worilds capitalize on another’s mistake like that while he’s been here.

  • alex

    Keisel, Timmons, Woodley, Taylor, Clark, Polamalu…how many all-pros can you not win with?!

  • Xclewsive

    I view turnovers like icing on the cake. If the Steelers offense generated anything forcing the Titans to pass more. Then I truly believe the turnovers would of been there. But one Titan drive (in the first half) shouldn’t stop the offense from at least scoring when it mattered. If the team wins its because of the offense but if the Steelers lose it’s because their defense didn’t get “splash plays”.

  • Xclewsive

    The Steelers defense doesn’t make splash plays because the offense fails to score points. When a team can both run and pass it’s hard for a defense to generate turnovers. The Titans created their turnovers because the Steelers were one dimensional.

  • Reader783

    I never said the defense was at fault. I said they played great, and they did. They rarely are the reason the Steelers lose any games. But timely defense is just as important as overall defense. Getting a timely stop at the end of the first half, getting a timely interception in the 3rd quarter, while they are not needed to win, other defenses can produce them and we don’t seem to anymore.

  • Xclewsive

    The Steelers defense had chances with tipped passes which they should have caught. But overall they were facing a team that refused to take chances because the Steelers offense failed to generated anything. When the offense is moving the ball even if it results in FGs can force a team to pass the ball more. Which would lead to more drop backs and more chances for splash plays.

  • Reader783

    Forget splash plays. They don’t matter. I never said we needed them. It’s the fact that, for the last few years in fact, this defense can’t seem to close the first half or close the game consistently. To let the Titans drive right down the field to end the first half with a TD is unacceptable, and I do not hesitate using that word. The Jake Locker, Jackie Battle led offense of the Titans that drove right down the field at the end of the first half should not ever do that. CJ didn’t even do anything either. Jackie Battle methodically went right down the field and Locker converted multiple 3rd and longs. Not acceptable for this defense.

  • Xclewsive

    So the offense gets a pass because the entire first half they couldn’t move the ball. But the defense is held to this ridiculous standard. Offense helps the defense which apparently the Steelers offense forgot. Only gaining 7 1st downs in the entire first with 3 of those 1st downs coming on there first drive. Pathetic

  • Reader783

    I’m not saying the offense was better. I said in my first comment that the defense keeps us in games all the time. What I am saying is that the Titans should not have scored that touchdown. This team almost works in reverse, the defense keeps the offense in it and the offense wins it at the end. It’s always been like that. Other teams have their offense score and score and then it comes down to a big stop late. All I am saying is that the Titans, or any other team for that matter, shouldn’t be able to finish the half with a TD, like it seems this defense allows way too often. It makes a huge difference to go in up 2-0 than down 7-2. Defense wins championships, and we’ve got one.

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