Sack Breakdown: Steelers Vs Dolphins

Two (sort of) sacks this week to go through.

1. 3rd and 10, 6:15 1st. 11 personnel. Five block + RB/TE check and release against a four man rush.

I say sort of because this sack was wiped out by penalty yet it still counts in the official stat book. I’m sure there’s some nuance in the rulebook I’m missing and we’ll keep this on the list, but it seems a little silly. I guess it’s because it was the unnecessary roughness call, not the defensive holding, that was accepted.

Both three techs for the Dolphins run a stunt with the LDT looping over the crashing RDT. Ramon Foster doesn’t pick it up in time and it creates a free lane.


But that isn’t who gets home. RDE Andre Branch puts a nice speed bull rush on Alejandro Villanueva. He’s lower and able to shoot his hands, getting into Villanueva’s chest – an issue for the tackle all year long – and walking him back. He struggles to rebuff it and gets taken into Ben Roethlisberger, who goes down.



The looping pressure didn’t give Roethlisberger anymore confidence to hang tough in the pocket so I’ll give some of the blame to Foster as well along with the obvious problems Villanueva faced.

Blame: Half on Foster, half on Villanueva

2. 2nd and 10, 1:07 1st. 11 personnel. Six block + RB check/release versus a five man rush.

It’s a blitz look from Miami with six potential rushers. Here’s the pre-snap look.


It’s a slide protection to the left and the six blockers, the five linemen and tight end Jesse James are responsible for their parts of the triangle.


That’s how James ends up by himself on Cameron Wake, their best pass rusher. Without my commentary, that’s something tight ends in this offense are asked to do on a regular basis and something James has done since his first game in Pittsburgh.

Not that that makes the matchup any easier to deal with. From his Wide 9 technique, Wake dips and rips under James, swaps hips, and is on his way to the quarterback.



Villanueva again has issues with a bull rush. I don’t believe he was tripped up here on this Miami stunt. He struggles to get low and run into the pocket, unable to establish his base with both feet on the ground, his right foot/leg coming up in the air and sapping him of any power.


As you can tell, he gets pushed back pretty badly too and his guy meets Roethlisberger at about the same time Wake does, though Wake is what garnered the attention of the camera crew in the analysis.

Both were at fault here and get part of the blame for the sack.

Blame: Half on Villanueva, half on James

Sack Counter (Game)

Alejandro Villanueva: 1
Ramon Foster: .5
Jesse James: .5

Sack Counter (Season) 

Alejandro Villanueva: 3.5
David DeCastro: 2
Marcus Gilbert: 1.5
Jesse James: 1.5
Ben Roethlisberger: 1.5
Antonio Brown: .5
Ramon Foster: .5

Penalty Counter (Game) 

David DeCastro: 1
Alejandro Villanueva: 1

Penalty Counter (Season)

Alejandro Villanueva: 4
David DeCastro: 3
Marcus Gilbert: 2

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • madman

    AV and DD are clearly weak links at least we know DD can play better.

  • Kevin artis

    Hubbard is part of the link.

  • Mark

    Alejandro is the weakness on the offensive line. He is getting dominated by quicker and stronger players. He plays way too high. I also feel that BJ Finney performs better than Ramon Foster. Ramon doesn’t adjust well to stunts and his weight is impacting his movement to get to next level.

  • RickM

    The 3-down sequence starting at 1:50 of the first quarter was brutal. We’re on Miami’s 30 with a chance to go up 15-3. On 1st-down Bell does a half-hearted job blocking a CB or Safety blitz and Ben has to throw earlier than he wants. On 2nd-down Bell doesn’t even see another secondary blitz, giving the guy a clear path, and Ben has to throw it away. And on 3rd-down (above) AV and James are easily beaten and the pocket collapses. Quite a lesson on how not to protect a QB, and how to take away a chance to put Miami in a hole early.

  • falconsaftey43

    They need to find a better option than AV next year. He hasn’t progresses as hoped. Pretty good backup, but shouldn’t be a starter. I know the Steelers ask their TEs to block DEs 1 on 1, but come on. No one would ever think James is actually capable of blocking Wake 1 on 1. It’s just not something he is capable of. That’s on the coaches/Ben/OL for not calling a different protection. Can’t put a guy in a position you know he is going to lose.

  • Zarbor

    The o-line took a step back. Pouncey has been the only consistent one. These guys were expected to be very good but you couldn’t tell last Sunday. AV is getting pushed around on skates again. When he is bad, he looks awful.

    Why is Jesse James, the weakest blocking TE we have on Cameron Wake? That’s no contest people. Just stupid. Sure way to get Ben killed Haley.

  • Don2727

    It’s a mute point now but I was watching the play that Ben got injured on last night. The Miami NT actually readjusts right before the snap and is lined up in the neutral zone. Should have been a flag and stoppage of play (IMO). Also it looks like Foster was supposed to double team and help Pouncey out but did not which allowed the NT(with the aide of being off sides) to shoot through the gap.

  • Steeler83

    Is that me or this team used to struggle against Wide 9 DEs (Eagles, now Miami) ?