Steelers Struggled To Register Unblocked Pressure On Defense

Last week, we took a look at how the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line handled pressure, and how much of it came unblocked as a result of missed reads or overloaded blitzes. Pro Football Focus catalogued the data, and it revealed that by the end of the season, the Steelers were among the best at controlling it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the defense, of course, and their ability to bring pressure unblocked, which naturally has a higher chance of success. Dick LeBeau’s blitz packages are designed around attacking a specific area with both numbers and disguise in the hopes of getting a free rusher.

Predictably, the system didn’t have such luck in creating unblocked pressure in 2013.

According to PFF, in fact, the Steelers were among the absolute worst in creating unblocked pressure, which should not be surprising given the struggles that they had to generate pressure of any kind, free or otherwise.

The Steelers generated the second-least amount of total unblocked pressure league-wide last season, ahead of only the San Francisco 49ers. Division rivals the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns fared little better, finishing 29th and 30th, respectively.

The Steelers registered just 34 total unblocked pressures, less than two per game, converting just three of them into sacks. Only the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans registered less uncontested sacks than the Steelers.

Equally concerning is that the Steelers were also among the worst in converting their unblocked pressures into sacks. Whenever they did manage to bring such pressure, they could only convert it into a sack 8.8 percent of the time.

Only the Jets, Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, and Houston Texans converted their unblocked pressure into sacks at a lower rate than the Steelers, who ranked 26th in that category.

On a slightly more positive note, the Steelers did manage to fall in the middle of the pack when it came to actually getting to the quarterback with unblocked pressure, even when it doesn’t result in sacks, registering at least a knockdown 41.2 percent of the time they were able to get pressure.

When it comes to actually influencing the play, the Steelers once again fell into the average category, ranking in neither the top 10 nor the bottom 10 in terms of passer rating allowed, but rather somewhere in the middle.

Amazingly, there were three teams that allowed a passer rating of over 100 when registering unblocked pressure. Less surprising is that the Seattle Seahawks finished with the best passer rating allowed figure, putting up a rating of just 14.6.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • KenNYSteelerFan

    This is very telling. What it tells me is the system works of you have the people to work it. Our people were not good enough collectively to get the guy down. This could be between all 3 levels of the defense. I do think we need to upgrade the talent on the defensive line. I’d like a stud at DE and I want to see what Nick Williams can do. We need more athleticism on the line. As for the linebackers we need the middle linebacker to be able to move sideline to sideline and can stay in all 3 downs. We hopefully have our free safety of the future. We need a talented steal in the 4th to 6th round at corner who can play inside about 30 snaps a game. Someone kind of like Cortez’s size and athleticism. Who can also cover tight ends.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Good points. More answers? On this defense, your outside guys have to really bring it in pass situations. So ideally you would get good pressure with just the 5 guys. Otherwise you will need more exotic blitzes to create pressure, perhaps a free CB that gets to QB, In the old days this not only resulted in sacks, but lots of Forced Fumbles.

    Here’s hoping those days come back soon as the backend of the D would benefit greatly. And if we end up with some more guys that can make plays the INT’s will also greatly increase.

  • frednash

    I think the field position of the other teams doomed us

    both kickoffs and punts were a big problem

    to many returned kickoffs, you need touchbacks

    same with punts, not enough fair catches

    Seishams field goals were great, his kickoffs not so

    and we all know about the punters

    I hope the Aussie helps!

  • charles

    Your statement about the Shehawks was why CHFF had them as the team to beat all year.
    Your article’s stat facts clarify 8-8.
    We don’t need recievers, cornerbacks, backup qbs or depth at running back, we need to draft 7DL, scour other practice squad teams and recognize how to complement Jones (or Moats). Pressure on the qb equals playoff opportunity.
    Moats might have been a steal.

  • treeher

    I agree about the poor punting and poor field position resulting. Also, this illustrates even more how much our success will depend upon JJ’s improvement in his second year.

  • sean mcmartin

    troubling,,so far the D-line got weaker. have not read anything about JJ putting on mass. and rookies don’t start on the Steelers..hopefully they sign at least one FA DE when woodley’s money comes free.

  • Xclewsive

    The defense has issues but not as many as the offense had in the beginning of the season which isn’t mentioned much. For years Ben has been criticized because he was “carried by his defense”. The year Ben has a chance to squash those myths he stumbles out of the gates. Last year was a true transition year for the defense as they worked in 6 new starters on defense. I don’t care what team you have it’s not going to look pretty with that much change over. This year is a new year!