Steelers Recent Sack Production Skews Season Total

They were the worst team in the league.

Emphasis on were.

If you landed on Earth today and just looked at the team stats, you’d think the Pittsburgh Steelers are doing pretty ok with their 24 sacks. That puts them tied for 14th in the NFL, above average, when two weeks ago, they were sitting in last place.

It’s a wonder what playing the Cleveland Browns can do. After eight sacks against them and another three versus the Indianapolis Colts Thursday, the Steelers have nearly doubled their season sack production the last two weeks. A minimal 13 through the first nine games, 11 after that.

Some of that has to do with, as the team basically pleaded for throughout, guys winning individual matchups. Playing the league’s two most sacked teams certainly helped create better opportunities. But Keith Butler has gone back to his ultra-aggressive defense – it’s fair to assume Mike Tomlin shoulders some of the blame for the team being so passive – that we saw last year and that’s what works for this defense. They’re at their best when they play fast and aggressive and the recent numbers reflect that.

The stats look at least acceptable but the bigger question, the better question, is if it’s sustainable. Or was it a byproduct of playing two bad teams under pretty good circumstances. The rest of the schedule is favorable but the real question is if they can carry over this type of production in the playoffs. Or will they revert back to their anemic ways of struggling to create the pressure they’ll need to beat the AFC’s best?

Those last two performances have probably created some type of temporary comfort. But it’s still a question mark for this team and the position, outside linebacker, the chief area of need after this season.

For the team’s sake, hopefully Butler keeps the pressure on. It’s the best, and maybe only, way to see this success continue.

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.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    I’d be very happy if they got another 24 this Sunday.

  • Petherson Silveira

    Pressure create turnovers, specially Strip sacks and interceptins. And with sacks, we can create 3&long situation.

  • RickM

    Skewed is the right word. The Giants had 18 sacks through 10 games, less than 2 a game. Yet they got 7 sacks yesterday against Cleveland, and of course we got the 8. We’re still going to have to manufacture pressure through creative schemes. Maybe Dupree, now that he’s in game shape, will surprise us with some new moves.

  • Kevin artis

    I hope these numbers don’t skew their thought process in drafting OLBs and edge rushers.

  • Nathanael Dory

    We’ll see vs the NY. Eli is one of the least sacked in the league

  • Xclewsive

    I’ve said this before, Artie Burns has changed the way the Steelers play defense. It’s ironic that since he’s been in the starting lineup the Steelers have amassed 16 of their 24 sacks.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    They need to average almost 5 per game to approach the 48 total sacks of last year. I don’t even care. But I am glad they are bringing the heat again as that’s the only way they can succeed.

    And I am fine with occasionally giving up the big play like Des pulled off when they played the Cowboys. That comes with the territory. The D is not good enough to get there with 4.

    The formula is to stop the run and blitz often against the pass. It actually worked good enough to play the best team in football currently, Dallas, tough right to the end. If they apply pressure and get Coates going they have a chance to beat anyone.

  • AndyR34

    I am thinking(?)…wishing(?)…hoping(?) that the passive defense displayed early was in the belief that they needed to give extra help to the rookie DB’s, maybe even to Cockrell and Golden. And I am thinking(?)…wishing(?)…hoping(?) that the agressive defense displayed recently is due to more confidence in the DB’s.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    It won’t. This past draft was to fix the secondary, this draft will be for pass rush.

  • Jaybird

    I’ll be there Beav-I’ll settle for 5 sacks and a 17 point win!

  • Jaybird

    I don’t know if teams are picking on Cockrell now , but you don’t see a whole lot of passes going Artie’s way the past couple of games. Are teams staying away from him?!

  • Michael Pennant

    Rookies are really rookies when coming into the league, but after 8 games they are no longer rookies.

  • kjacksonpgh

    In order for this to possibly continue a few other things must happen.
    1st we must win on first and second down in order for Butler to have the ability to become more aggressive with down and distance.
    2nd we must be able to pressure the QB with the 4 man rush so that we will have the respect from offensive coordinators and the QB. When we send 5 or more we must create havoc for QB’s so they cannot diagnose were the pressure will come from.
    3rd our DB’s need to step up and prove they can play in space whether in zone or press so Butler can feel comfortable that if we blitz the end result will not be a big splash play for the opposing offense. Also our Safety’s need to be in position to make a tackle and then tackle as a last line of defense.

    Sacks are great but we at least need to have the ability to pressure the QB and have him potentially make mistakes so we can capitalize on those opportunities.

  • Dshoff

    Heck, teams find guys open when we even rush only 3 so we might as well try to limit the qbs time back there with pressure. I really think that’s the only way we win against better teams.

  • Thomas

    Coming into CLE we had about 9 sacks and 3-ish turnovers. Playing CLE twice this year will make us equal to what we were last season.

  • Richard Edlin

    The bright side of Heyward’s injury is that it looks like we’ll have three good quality ends in non-base formations to start next year. Instead of a high draft pick, it’s more a mid-late round need which means we can devote that pick to another part of the team.

  • The Truth

    Yes, but for some reason Tomlin and Butler become enamored with a “Sit back and let the offense score and march on us at will” defense.

  • They said earlier this year that played more zone because of the inexperience in the secondary. I find it’s no coincidence that the younger secondary guys are playing better and earning trust from coaches that we have seen more aggresive play calling.

  • The Giants O line has had their share of problems this year. Not only are the one dementional (they can not run the ball at all), they have had problems pass protecting at times too. The media here in NYC/NJ has made a big deal of it throught the season.

    We may get beat by one of the tallented WRs they got, ODB, Shepard and Cruz is about as good as it gets but they have little else outside of these three. But if we are as aggressive as we have been the past few games, Eli should feel pretty uncomfortable in that pocket. We may be able to force him into some mistakes.

  • steelburg

    I agree they have to take chances on defense to be effective. I also don’t mind if they give up the big play every now and then. But the better double Beckham this week.

  • Aj Gentile

    It looks like it’ll be a good draft to do it to.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Yeah I’ve been hearing this is a pass rush/ Running back draft!

  • Steeler83

    Pass rush / Running Back / CB draft ^^