Film Room: This Is Why Steelers’ Sack Totals Are Skyrocketing

Back to talk to the tape for one of honestly the most important subjects we can cover. The Pittsburgh Steelers are tied for second in the NFL with nine sacks through two weeks. Compare that to having just one last year, tied for last. The key difference? Rush lane integrity. Keeping the QB within the pocket to allow blitzes to be effective and guys to win their one-on-one matchups.

We use the first two games to show several examples of how it works and why it helps. As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you have any issue with the audio/video.

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.

  • Bryant Eng

    Alex, I know you have told us all a million times, but do you have any suggestions as to what books may be available with regard to NFL schematics, etc. A “field bible,” if you will? Not so much interested in scouting, as I am in being able to digest film.

  • Michael James

    Great work!

  • Charles Mullins

    Helps that they had a rookie Browns QB in week 1 and a back up in week 2. Hope the trend continues.

  • I think we would had more sacks vs. a less mobile Bradford, even if he was 100% healthy. Keenum escaped quite a few near sacks.

  • srdan

    On that fourth play that you found, that is great hand usage by Watt. He set up thomas to try and engage and clubbed him.

  • The Tony

    What’s up with you(?) sitting on Santa’s lap Alex?

  • gdeuce

    Bradford would’ve gotten rid of the ball much quicker than Keenum, so i think it would’ve been around the same number of sacks

  • hdogg48

    You just keep getting better and better Alex….

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I agree about Shazier, unless it’s an overload to the outside. That would be ok. I would much rather use him on a delayed blitz up the middle as he is so screaming fast that he would still get to the QB in 2 seconds flat! Even if he is a half second later, he can still get his hands up. Its a no brainer that I would use a few times a game, especially on 3rd and long.

    Overall, I love the fact that the aggressive coach Butler seems to be free to dial up the pressure finally. Last year, in the first 2 or 3 games they were almost always sending only 3 or 4 rushers. That had to be a Tomlin idea, as Butts has talked at length about loving pressure and blitzing. Much better this year. I do not expect as many sacks against great QB’s but they should still get tons of pressure, and that is often good enough to cause errant throws and success.

  • Craig M

    As soon as our front 7 develop a cohesive personality our turnover ratio, interceptions/ fumble recovery, should take a big move in the plus area- something Cowher emphasized, from what he learned under KC HC Marty Shottenheimer.

  • Maybe on some, there were a few times Keenum was hit quickly and got away, like against 98 early in the game. Bradford would have been dropped like a sack of potatoes. Pun intended.

  • Ish Gadol

    Thanks, Alex! Awesome job in breaking it down for us!

  • flump33

    Pat Kirwan , How to watch football without watching the ball, not sure if that is the exact title.

  • Alex Kozora

    haha, i don’t know why the thumbnail switches back and forth between the video and my profile pic.

    But yeah, that’s me in college. Santa came to visit one of the basketball games we were covering.

  • Alex Kozora

    Kirwan is a solid name. Chris Brown too – get one (or both) of his books. Lot of great resources online, too.

  • Xclewsive

    Alex great job a super always. The difference between last year and this year I believe is healthy players and overall better players. Which plays into Bulters vision of winning one on one matchups and the players are doing that.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    If shazier would come into the qb under control and not wild, we would be a team approaching pro bowl status.

  • Boots

    I think you’re starting to see the maturation of guys like Chik and Bud in their understanding of the concepts of rushing the passer as a unit. You picked some good examples of how they aren’t hurrying the stunts, they let the interior guy work to get leverage and then go. Now it’s making the guards play in more space against better athletes, and you aren’t seeing three guys getting all bunched up. I think it’s also speaking well of the secondary in giving the rush time to work when it’s initially picked up fairly well. I know we haven’t exactly played great QB’s but it’s still encouraging bc it didn’t matter who the qb was the last few years.

  • Dshoff

    Wow, awesome breaking it down for us Alex! Question, When guys have outside contain, is that more important than beating their guy? Do they actually have to contain more than penetrate??

  • Alex Kozora

    Their goal isn’t really to win. They don’t have a two way go that lets them rush wherever/however they want. So if they can win and still contain (win to the outside), that works, but yeah, they’re generally not rushing as hard as the others. You can see that from any of the backside contain guys in the video (Alualu/Heyward). That’s not their primary job.

  • Alex Kozora

    That’s a good points. DL usually are bad at stunts. Don’t move well, timing gets screwed up. On the whole, Steelers are doing a good job of timing it. First guy goes, then the second.

  • Steve

    Thats funny – Nice Santa picture for your future girlfriend to adore – HA!

    With the personnel we had last year, with Jarvis and Heyward being out, it was hard for the Steelers to keep containment and get a good pass rush. AluAlu is doing a great job in Tuitts absence, he was a good pickup for the Steelers.

  • Dshoff

    That makes sense. Thanks Alex!

  • derp_diggler

    Great stuff Alex. Thanks!

  • MC

    His hand usage is great for a inexperienced rookie, something I’ve noticed since preseason. REally helps that he has really long arms.

  • srdan

    I never played, is that more a natural thing or can it be taught?

  • Terrible Towlie


  • Don

    On the 3rd and long where they lose outside contain, I’m not so sure that was a called stunt. Alualu never really makes a move toward the outside, and I think Chickillo was simply reacting to a potential gap that opened up in the middle. Kizer reacted to Chick’s adjustment and broke to his right. Just my undeucated opinion on the play.