2016 Steelers’ Defensive Charting: Playoffs

Per reader request, an overview of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense from the playoffs only. If you missed it, check out our data from the regular season. There is so much good information there. You seriously don’t want to miss out.

The Steelers defense was on the field for 194 snaps over three playoff games. That’s an average of 64.7 per game.

– Personnel groupings over these three games.

Nickel: 62.9%
3-4 (regular base): 37.1%
3-4 (3-4 with three safeties, one CB): 6.2%

Base went up a tick because the Kansas City Chiefs run a lot of heavier personnel and of course, the New England Patriots built a nice little nest egg on the scoreboard, letting them ground and pound their way to victory in the 4th quarter.

Butler sent 5+ pass rushers just 17.3% of the time. He blitzed, by our definition (sending anyone not on the LOS), 28.6% of the time.

Let’s compare those two figures to what happened in the regular season.

5 or more – 17.3% (Regular season, 27.7%)
Blitz – 28.6% (Regular season,  39.7%)

So you’re seeing a sizable drop of about 10% in each category.

This was most notable against the Patriots. He rushed 5+ 11.1% of the time and blitzed 24.4% of the time. Both down even below the playoff average and way below the regular season average.

Of course, the caveat here is that a single game can skew numbers because they’re based off that particular gameplan and not a larger, overall trend. But if you wanted the numbers, there ya go.

– In total, the Steelers had a pressure on 14.2% of passes. Compare that to the regular season of 20.5%.

Defensive Line

Stephon Tuitt played 181 of 184 snaps. That’s 93.2% of the time. Javon Hargrave weren’t too far behind at 82%. He saw 159 snaps.

– DL pressures:

Stephon Tuitt: 2.5
Javon Hargrave: 1
The rest: 0


James Harrison was the workhorse you expected him to be. He played 171 snaps, just over 88%.

But that was still a distant 4th at linebacker. Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons logged every snap and Bud Dupree missed only four the entire postseason.

Those four snaps went to Arthur Moats, the only snaps he played the entire postseason. Like what happened two years ago, with the Steelers healthy and knowing who their guys were, Moats was the odd man out.

Jarvis Jones picked up the rest of Harrison’s snaps, finishing with 23.

LB pressures:

James Harrison: 5.5
Bud Dupree: 4.5
Ryan Shazier: 2
Lawrence Timmons: 2

Great sign for Dupree. Finished off on a high note. In the regular season, seven games, four starts, he had just 5 pressures. 4.5 in the three playoff games.

Harrison dropped into coverage 37% of the time (17 of 46 snaps) against the Patriots, which is above his regular season average. 32.4% during the regular season. So there is a fair complaint to be made here over a near 5% rise.

Jarvis Jones had just ten pass rushing opportunities in the playoffs. The Steelers asked him to drop on half of those. Ouch.

Target stats:

Ryan Shazier: 1/3 0 TD 1 INT
Lawrence Timmons: 3/3 45 yards 0 TD 0 INT

Defensive Back

Mike Mitchell led the team in blitzes, being sent four times. William Gay and Sean Davis blitzed three each. Mitchell and Gay had one pressure apiece.

– Target stats:

William Gay: 3/5 85 yards 1 TD 0 INT
Artie Burns: 2/4 10 yards 1 TD 0 INT
Ross Cockrell: 5/9 85 yards 0 TD 0 INT

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.

  • Uncle Rico.

    The Steelers didn’t blitz much the first half of the season, trying to get pressure with just 4. Then, iirc, around the bye they had a seismic shift, and suddenly started blitzing a crap ton. So even the regular season stats are skewed, and not reflective of their sudden success the second half of the season. I’m guessing you have the 5-man blitz breakouts by game. Curious what that 5-man rush percentage and blitz percentage was post-bye. Guessing the first half of the season futility mirrored their postseason numbers, while their ~post-bye likely expose a much greater gap.

  • capehouse

    Nice. Do you have the snaps/pressure for Harrison and Dupree? Thanks.

  • Alex Kozora

    Harrison: 17.8
    Dupree: 19.8

  • Alex Kozora

    Right, we’ve talked about that during that part of the season. Blitz numbers across the board definitely went up as the year progressed and in a bigger way than I thought.

  • Andy Watkins

    Kinda telling how much teams shied away from Artie

  • VaDave

    Alex, Can you add in the penalty yardage for Defensive PI and Holding by our DBs? Thanks.

  • Steve

    Why the Steelers didn’t blitz Brady more is beyond me? Brady did get the ball out quickly, which killed the Steelers. Harrison dropped into coverage, then went after the QB a few times.

  • Dshoff

    It just seems to me that Butler, like Lebeau seem to get scared and go with a 3 or 4 man rush on 3rd downs. But that’s just a guess. I’d love to see a breakdown of how much they blitz on each down. I’ll bet the blitzing percentage is the lowest on 3rd downs. They don’t seem to dial it up on 3rd downs. And Butler got scared facing Brady and blitz numbers went way down. I would have loved to try to hit him a little bit early just so he didn’t get comfortable back there.

  • Mark Tercsak

    The Steelers up-front gang.
    Watching this group more often than not they had a high center of gravity throughout the of the season,
    blockers are able to get up under them and get control of them, as we see in the above photograph.
    the next problem is the up-front gang use the same pass-rush shedding technique, play after play, the (Bull-Rush). you have got to mix techniques, However; the biggest problem with this defense is it’s inability to tackle…