Belichick And Brady Say Steelers Defensive Scheme Very Similar To Last Year’s

With the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 15 game against the New England Patriots now just a few days away, quite a few fans and analysts are curious as to how the team’s defense will ultimately try to defend the pass this time around. Several want and expect the Steelers to play a lot more man-coverage than they did during last year’s AFC Championship game.

On Thursday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked during his press conference if he’s seen the Steelers mix up their coverages throughout the season and specifically if he’s observed them playing more man-coverages.

“Yes. I mean, I think they definitely do that,” Brady said. “Within their zones, there’s always man elements. So, it looks like the Steelers to me. I mean, they’ve had the same defense for a long time. Whatever they decide to do, we’ll be prepared for. I mean, we prepare for everything. We’ll go out there and cut it loose on Sunday.”

So, are the Steelers really pretty similar defensively this year to what they were last year?

“Yeah, basically,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said on Thursday.

Belichick, did note, however that he has seen a few things change personnel group wise since inside linebacker Ryan Shazier went down injured a few weeks ago.

“They’ve played more dime defense with him [Shazier] out,” Belichick said Thursday. “They’re primarily a nickel team going back to last year when it was [Lawrence] Timmons and Shazier. A lot of nickel this year. They’ve played a little more dime this year and in the last couple of weeks in third down situations; not on early downs. I’d say that would be the biggest change. That’s not really a change, but that has shown up.”

So, will the Steelers defense break out several things Sunday at Heinz Field that we and Brady haven’t seen so far this season? That’s very unlikely to happen this late in the season, according to Brady.

“I think at this point in the year, it’s not like you’re going to go reinvent your whole defense in Week 15,” Brady said. “They’re ranked pretty high. They do a lot of things well. I’m sure they’re going to want to continue to do those things well. They rush good, they’re tight in coverage, they mix their schemes in – zone and man and blitzes – and they do it on all three downs. They don’t make it easy on you.

“Now, for us, it’s just being on alert. We’re going to try to go out and play the way we play, too, and that’s what makes for a good game. They’ve had a lot of good teams over the years. These are always pretty big matchups and this is a big one for both of us.

It goes without saying that the game plan that Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler uses Sunday against the Patriots will certainly be dissected after the game has ended and especially if it ends in another loss to New England. On Thursday, Butler was asked if his defense is now more capable of playing man coverage than it was last year.

“We’ll see,” Butler said.

We shall see, indeed.

  • PittShawnC

    lol oh god

  • Lambert58

    Please, for the love of all that is holy, destroy this team.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    annnnnnd 51-37 pats over steelers

  • ciscor65

    I hope it’s not the same as last year. But maybe if the Steelers get a good nights sleep (no fire alarms) it will be a different outcome.

  • Kevin artis

    I hope when Butler develops his game play he has Harrison and Gay in the room with him.

    These guys have seen everything the Patriots throw out there and can give some good insight.

    But scheme will not out do matchup problems. We just need the offense to outscore their offense.

  • Steve

    Blitz, blitz, and blitz. Even if there is no sack, keep hitting Brady. That’s the key to the win.

  • Gizmosteel

    In my head I was thinking 43-37. Unfortunately I can’t argue against them hanging “fitty something” on the Steelers.

  • ciscor65

    As long as the Steelers keep scoring right along with them the higher number will belong to the Steelers.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    And I will add… Blitz and grab… That first five yards better feel like a molestation zone for the Patriots WRs. That’s what the Seahawks and Broncos do to the Pats. And that’s why they win.

  • ThatGuy



    Great we have them right where we want them!! 😎

    Our best defense?

    A good offense, ‘good’ being a tough, old, AFC Central like grind it out, HUGE TOP advantage, ball control juggernaut!!!!!

    Time for the Oline and Bell to win a game.

  • Charles Haines

    Great pic of that ferocious 3 man pass rush, can’t believe Brady had time to get that off.

  • Nathanael Dory

    You know the ref crew taht will officiate us right? It wont happen

  • pittfan

    got 4 surrounding edelman. he aint getting the

  • pittfan

    I hope to God Butler being tightlipped means he has something in the bag they HAVENT seen. BTW, if you do, save it for the second half.

  • Cormel Bovan Sr.

    What gets lost in the matchup is.when we play them we have stopped them defensively at times in the game especially early. Our offense wouldn’t take advantage and put points on the board, so it’s not like we’ve not been able to stop them we just have to score. That way we can change the way we attack them.

  • LifeUhhFindsAWay

    “I mean, they’ve had the same defense for a long time. Whatever they decide to do, we’ll be prepared for.”

    i.e. “we still have the play signals from SpyGate, we’re good.”

  • pittfan

    Like the Cobi Hamilton drop? Yikes!

  • pittfan

    with so many newbies in the back end and LBing, we need their experience

  • LifeUhhFindsAWay

    Also remember last year we didn’t have Bell, Bryant, or JuJu. This will be a whole different game.

  • steelburg

    I personally don’t have an issue with the comments last year this team went to the AFCCG with that same defense. But the talk I have been hearing out of the coaches every sense that game is when we need to play man we will be able to. So this is definitely the time to show that we are capable of playing man like ever other team who has ever slowed Brady down.

  • LifeUhhFindsAWay

    we also need our offense to keep their offense off the field

  • FATCAT716

    Steelers win.

  • LifeUhhFindsAWay

    It will go much better if Haden is ready

  • Cormel Bovan Sr.

    Oh god 🤦🏾‍♂️

  • pittfan

    not just slow him down but smash his a$$…lol

  • Cormel Bovan Sr.

    Exactly Ju Ju is that consistency we been missing , the Hines Ward element lol. He just keeps the chains moving along with Bell.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I do expect to see a mix of zone and man-coverage concepts. Remember that part of the problem in the AFC Championship Game was that the Steelers didn’t have the personnel to do everything they wanted. They tried and failed to play man here and there. And bad man coverage is easier to beat than good zone.

    Contrary to popular opinion, the Steelers will not and cannot play press coverage all game long. I imagine special attention will be given to limit Gronk, but they may have to try a few things to figure out what works best in-game.

  • Timothy Rea

    That’s the only way they should be able to slow down the steelers offense too. But amazingly when they mug..its mysteriously no call.

  • Jimbo

    no haden, no shaz, zone still a big liabilty. same old,, no pass rush no stopping brady.

  • FATCAT716

    Extremely confident in my guy’s

  • afrazier9

    It is sad that he says we have had the same defense for 15 years. We have to change it up shoot even the image in the article looks wide open behind the linebackers. Again people running wide-open can’t be any type of defense SMH. And for them to keep saying it is communication is crazy being as though people are just wide-open sitting. I have never watched any game like ours with wide open people it is insane

  • pittfan

    mr. cheerful.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    These refs are gonna throw flags either way. If we play perfect off coverage all night they will STILL throw flags. Might as well jam them in the first 5 yards and at least force Brady to throw early (or get hit).

  • Steeldog22

    Completely agree. Mug them until you find out how much mugging is acceptable, then adjust accordingly. But don’t play it straight up only to find the refs are allowing some mugging and the Pats have done it the whole game.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I worry about blown assignments when, for instance, the Pats’ running backs run routes down the field. It hasn’t always been zone coverage that has hurt the Steelers, it’s been a lack of understanding (at key moments) whose responsibility it is to cover each player and when. I think the Pats will send Burkhead/White/Lewis on deep passing routes, looking for a linebacker who thought he would only have to cover underneath.

    EDIT: Basically, Brady and the Pats will look for mismatches, and I want the defense to be ready.

  • RMSteeler

    Butler is scheming for his job. Dadgum it!

  • Nolrog

    I don’t think the Steelers are going to score 37. I was thinking more like a 42-24 kind of game, similar to the AFC championship debacle.

  • jconeoone C

    …and Gronk with 10 catches for 157 yards and 3 td’s

  • Mark

    This games matters so much, because I want the Cheatriots to have to play that Jag defense in Jacksonville with that fierce 4 man pass rush and cover corners.

  • Sam Clonch

    PATS defense sure isn’t the same (much worse, lost Logan Ryan, Hightower, Branch maybe out), and Steelers offense packing a world more punch than last year’s AFCCG (Bryant, Bell, JJSS vs Hamilton, Ayers, Rogers). Pats offense not as good either without Edelman or Blount.

  • Ravens Team Gynecologist

    The vaunted duo or Cobi Hamilton and Sammy Coates will be missing though!

  • Cwallace

    I agree…what have we got to lose…a loss?

  • Cwallace

    Naw…he just looks hillbilly. The tight lips have nothing special and I wish he did.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    The Pats’ versatile stable of running backs make me more nervous than Blount ever did.

  • I hope you’re wrong. Shouldn’t the Steelers with Bell, JuJu and Bryant be able to score more against a weaker Patriots defense?

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Hey just wanted to say nice moniker. I knew where it was from instantly 🙂

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    We just have to go score for score with them. I’m confident in the defense, but I’d feel a ton better if Haden and Dirty play! I think Hilton will be the x factor.

  • Brian Miller

    Well we consistently have miscommunication on defense, especially against NE going back several games. I have to believe Butler has some tricks up his sleeve, but essentially it is all tied into pressure. No pressure, we are in deep trouble…good pressure, we can win!

  • SouthernSteel

    Yes TB when you lose a #50 you better reinvent your Defense or you won’t make it very far in the playoffs….

  • Dorian James

    similar defense similar results LOL

  • Jimbo

    I hope butler has some tricks up his sleeve to disguise the pressure. History on tape has shown no pressure on brady means he finds the open guys in the zone. I am pissed that bellicheat and brady say they see no big changes in Steelers D..Steelers need a sound game for 60 minutes, no excuses.

  • steelburg

    It would be but if he can’t play other guys have to step up.

  • Ken

    Late Sunday evening…. are we shaking our head saying we made no progress in stopping the Patriots once again. or will we be watching a sour face Belicheck at the press conference… Please let it be that later.

  • Rob

    More importantly (i think), we didn’t have Cam and a good backup like Alualu

  • Rob

    It’s almost always been about execution for this defense. Butler has done some weird things with the line fronts, but besides that, players just have to execute and do their job

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Brady sounds very confident about playing against the Steeler’s D. Hell, he sounds eager.

  • Ralph Wagner

    Belichick And Brady Say Steelers Defensive Scheme Very Similar To Last Year’s.
    of course it is, Tomlin has often said: we do what we do. Which is why the Steelers will lose to the Patriots on Sunday. (We do what we do) Really?

    Go Steelers! LOL

  • steelburg

    Im right there with you. I’m so sick of hearing about how we are going to get beat by the Patriots, I hope we wipe the floor with there a** and shut the media and the pats fans up.

  • Michael James

    Matakevich? I love him as a special teamer, but he shouldn’t be anywhere near the defense. As bad as Spence and Moats were at ILB last week, Matakevich was even worse against the Bengals.

  • FATCAT716

    True but just Shalieve it’s our time against them. Normally things are stacked against us when we play them. Rather it’s injuries or it’s suspensions or it’s early season on the road we just haven’t had that moment until now.

  • FATCAT716

    I agree. I feel we ready & it’s in our kitchen

  • westcoasteeler

    When we roll out the same D I’ll need to check into a mental hospital for some ESTs. Brady has beaten this D for so long his notes are kept in a trapper keeper! Let’s put a 60 burger to cover their 50 burger. Their defense is toast! For all that is good, beat the Paties!!

    C’mon, Steelers, Here we go!

  • Roberto Vaquero Bazán

    Boy how good it Will be to get Watt all over Brady again and again and again!

  • Jack Hambert

    Considering how they bitch-slapped us last year, you can understand their confidence.

  • Applebite

    The Patriots are too familiar with the Steelers, to bring any sort of surprise to this matchup. And some of that is to blame on the schedulers. I just don’t buy into the idea that the schedule was made years in advance. I believe that the league schedule each season for ratings…

    That said, the only way to win, as I currently see things, is to have a shootout, and hope the Defense makes some stops along the way. Let’s be honest here, other than Watt, I don’t believe this roster has anyone that can shadow a TE like Gronk. Without him, the Pats were particularly hurting on offense, making life far easier for the Dolphins, compared to what the Steelers will have to deal with.

  • Jack Hambert

    Without Shazier, you can see how we could easily be exposed. In many respects, the defense was constructed around him.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He made tackles tho, and that’s the thing.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Or heyward

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Oh sh*tfeck that’s scary. Utilizing the same D and expecting a different result is text book infeckingsanity. Please please please play press and knock the pretty boy on his ass in an extremely violent manner.

  • PA2AK_

    You’re exactly right. Brady’s going to score, we know this. Bout time for the offense shows up.

  • francesco

    My confidence in Butler is somewhere between 5% to 7%.

  • francesco

    You hit it right on. The Patriots use their RB’s like no other team does. They will run flats all game until we show them that we can stop it.

  • francesco

    Can we borrow their defence for the game?

  • francesco

    The key is to disguise what you’re doing until Brady snaps the ball and not a second before.

  • walter

    We have been secretly practicing man coverage, unknown to Brady or Belicheat, waiting to unleash hell on the Patriots!

  • francesco

    Are biggest problem is Dupree and Burns. How often have we expected more from them and they have disappointed big time.
    I would like to see Harrison out there along with Watts roaming around the line making Brady guess where the rush is coming from?

  • rystorm06

    They’ve always done that. Kevin Faulk brings back painful memories

  • #7

    Jesus effing Christ why don’t some of you just put on your Brady jersey, worship at your alter of Belichick, and slurp down a bowl of chowder. You’re embarrassing.

  • DoctorNoah

    What is the key to this game? Not who plays ILB. Not the holes in the secondary. Not Haden, not Dirty Red.

    The key is interior pressure. Throughout his career (and similar to Manning btw), the only way to beat Brady has been to get in his face and disrupt his timing and poise, not letting him step up into the pocket. Stunts and twists rarely ha e time to get home, nor do outside rushes.

    The game is firmly in the hands of Cam Heyward, Tuitt, Hargrave. Period.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Don’t be surprised if NE run the ball more than expected. After getting gouged by whoever that Ravens back was I would seek to exploit that.

  • #7

    Considering you wanted Ben sent to the glue factory about 3 dozen times, I’ll take your player evaluations with a grain of salt.

  • John A Stewart

    And jam the receivers but more importantly hit Brady and brake his legs.

  • Lambert58

    Good, the last time he sounded that confident, he lost to the Giants in the SB.

  • 6 ring circus

    The mood swings on the game day thread are going to be Tsunami-like. Some of the ass jacks are in full throat mode already. Enter at your own risk on Sunday.

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    We can let Gronkoski get his touches. So long as we put a hat on him. We should wear em out let them over work him

  • Danny Young

    As true as that is, I think the game lies more with Burns and Davis not racking up huge penalties

  • Danny Young

    How crazy would it sound to move Dupree inside and have Watt and Deebo outside, or at least some formation that gets Bud blitzing through the middle

  • Lambert58


  • SeventhHeavan

    Pressure, pressure, pressure. Can anyone do it? Who’s going to get into his face? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

  • Lambert58

    He always knows where to be, it’s just a matter of if he can get there.

  • Romel Roze

    I was thinking the same thing. The Patriots will also probably get their RBs out in space against our Lbsin the passing game.

    I can see their game plan being focused on their RBs trying to exploit our LBs

  • Dewayne Braxton

    What makes you think this defense is going to wear Gronk out? Based on what? Missed tackles?

  • Dewayne Braxton

    When your old and slow experience does not mean much. Athletes gifted to make plays is a better option.

  • pittfan

    +100. I’m sick of hearing about how invincible the chowderheads are. Not just media and pat fans but OUR “fans”. So much negativity. sheesh

  • John Pennington

    Put Brian Allen on Gronk with his speed height he could take Gronk away from Brady and make him hold the ball a little longer so the defense can get to Brady.Allen is the X Factor in this game.

  • Jim Foles

    Brady’s offense is the same dink and dunk for 15 years.

  • Taylor Williams

    Aren’t you sick of losing to these guys? The same way EVERY single time.

  • Taylor Williams

    His speed, playmaking ability, and overall leadership is really why our defense was top 5.

  • Jeff George

    Trapper Keeper, damn he’s had our number for a while.

  • Michael James

    He made tackles on plays where he got smoked in the first place.
    Look, I really like Matakevich. He just doesn’t belong on a NFL defense. Much too limited athletically. He’s a special teams demon, but that’s his ceiling.

  • Michael James

    But that’s the whole point. All the football IQ is great and I’m certain that he has plenty of it. Just doesn’t matter when you’re physically limited and can’t execute.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    And Spence and Moats just got smoked so what’s your point?

  • Carl Mendelius

    The same defense, the same result. That is why they keep drafting LBs in the first round and CBs in the third or later. That is why the Bengals traded up in 2016 to snatch CB William Jackson III from the Steelers and now they have to live with inconsistent Artie Burns. Jackson is emerging as a star CB in the NFL. You know why the Steelers didnt fight for Jackson? because CB isnt that valuable for their system even though the secondary was a mess in 2015. The Pats are gonna kill the Steelers next Sunday because they have the same defense and the Pats have the same offense, it is not that complicated.

  • Michael James

    That all of them are just terrible. I didn’t understand the hype for Matakevich being back, when he’s just as terrible as the others at ILB.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I’d rather have someone in that will make the tackle tho.

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    Yeah. It would have been nice to see this defense hit Gronkowski early and often make him fight for every inch. It would have been nice to see Gronkowski bent over or on the sideline gasping for air. Anything to make or break up what always seems to be routine catches with Gronkowski down the seam. Yeah he got all his catches yesterday and we still almost won like I said we could. And that’s because Gronkowski doesn’t play defense. The Patriots have serious flaws and we should have beat them yesterday