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.