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Double Explosive Plays Have Been Killing The Steelers Defense This Season


So far this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has only given up 37 explosive plays of 20 or more yards. While that number currently ties them for fourth best in the league, it is a deceptive stat.

11 of those 37 plays that they have allowed have been double explosive or better and five of those have resulted in touchdowns.

To better illustrate this, the Steelers average per explosive play allowed this season is 38.77 yards and that is the worst in the league. That’s nearly the equivalent of allowing two explosive plays per every one. Last season their average was 30.14 and in 2011 it was a league-best 27.07.

As many of you well know, I am a big fan of the TOX stat, which measures explosive plays and turnover differential, but even that stat becomes flawed and needs adjusting when you consider what the Steelers have allowed this season in the way of double explosive plays.

A lot of these double explosive plays have been the result of poor tackling and such was the case this past Sunday in the win over the Detroit Lions. Had cornerback Ike Taylor tackled Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson at the Steelers 35 yard-line after the big catch he made in the second quarter, the defense still would have had a chance to hold for a field goal.

In the games that the Steelers have allowed a double explosive play in so far this season, they are 2-5.

This coming Sunday, the Steelers will play a Cleveland Browns team that has only produced 32 offensive explosive plays of 20 yards or more. Of those 32 plays, eight have been double explosive and 19 of them have gone for 30 yards or more.

So who are the Browns explosive play threats? Wide receiver Josh Gordon has registered 12 plays of 20 yards or more so far this season while tight end Jordan Cameron has seven to his credit.

The Browns have a solid defense and they have only allowed 28 explosive plays this season. Only two of those 28 have been double explosive, so as you can clearly see, the TOX stat is likely to play a big role in this game. The Steelers defense will likely give up a few explosive plays in this game, but they can’t allow any of those to be double explosive.

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About Dave Bryan

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

    That’s very telling. Certainly poor tackling is the main culprit. I think the pursuit hasn’t been as good this year, either.

  • Jeff

    Agreed. Pursuit has been awful. Ryan Clark isn’t catching anyone behind him.

  • steeltown

    That’s why I wish to god Van Dyke or even Blake could somehow turn the corner under Coach Lake’s supervision and actually play some on Defense, those two guys can catch people from behind. The only guy we have with that kinda speed right now on Defense is Shamarko Thomas

  • dgh57

    Doesn’t help when Polamalu, Clark, and Taylor all having down years. Then add in starting 2 rookies at LBer, others like Timmons having off years, and getting few sacks and TOs means that when you add it all together it will show up on the field of play and thus on the stat sheet.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Not to discount the speed, but pursuit is just as much about awareness, hustle, and taking good angles. As soon as the ball leaves the QBs hand, everyone should be moving toward the play.

  • steeltown

    I don’t see a lack of hustle in this Team. I do however see some bad angles being taken.. and lack of speed

  • r4kolb

    I agree with the rooks being an issue. I just watched the replay of the game and it seems they are always trying to realign up to when the ball is being snapped. If you have access to it watch it. They look like they are always confused.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Dean Tomlin needs to put his secondary on double-secret probation !

  • Reader759

    reader759
    The play before megatrons TD, Ike drop a sure int. This cost us 7 points and the int he dropped later cost us 3 more points.

  • charles

    Seems like Shamarko was chasing Gronk on every play when we played the Patriots. Either Gronkowski is deceptively fast or Shamarko is slow. I noted in a reply to you before the season began that we seemed team slow and these double explosive plays justify that. Team speed was a Jimmy Johnson trademark and Colbert should take note.

  • Josh Knepshield

    If I remember correctly, we still won the game. Lol

  • Nolrog

    Double explosive is more than 40 yards instead of 20? You can adjust the TOX stat if you want to give those more weight; just add in a column for 40 plus and then count them in both the 20+ and 40+ (double count them to give them added weight.)

  • steeltown

    I think a lot of Sharks miscues are due to bad angles and poor awareness as previously mentioned.. Shamarko is much faster than Gronk
    Cortez and WillieG were never blazers just intelligent sound tacklers and Ike and Troy have lost a step, so we need more speed in the secondary

  • Riverstko

    Yep, so that means DB in first round,NT and OL in later rounds.

  • charles

    I think quite a few missed tackles by Clark are the result of NFL ruleschanges and the idiot Goodell setting the Steelers up as the example. Clark was a deadly hitter until he started tackling with his hands. Same could be said for Troy. I do have trouble agreeing with your angle theory though. Bad angles are either a misjudgement of someone’s speed or a unteachable fault, ie you aren’t good enough to play in the NFL. I would like to suggest that Tomlin’s eye is towrds hitters when drafting and Goodell ‘s making example of the Steelers and in particular Harrison is one of the things that has really hurt our defense the last couple of years.

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