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Steelers Defense Not Showing Signs of Being Super So Far in Preseason

While the offense has been nothing short of spectacular over the course of the last two preseason games, there’s something that has been an issue with the Steelers, and it’s an issue that needs to be corrected in a hurry.

The defense.

Sure against the Eagles the Steelers D came out looking for blood, and they found it. Coming off an awful showing the week before against the Redskins, the team made it a long night for superstar QB Michael Vick, picking him off three times.

Last night against the Falcons, the team put up gaudy numbers on offense, but the Falcons offense led by Matt Ryan, who for some reason threw the ball 42 times in a half, also at times seemed to march up and down the field against the usual awesome Steelers D.

So what gives?

The Falcons had 266 yards in the half, nearly matching the 276 yards the Steelers gave up in an entire game in 2010.

“I think they would have run a lot more than what they did, but if you have something that was working, and it was working for them, I don’t see what you need to change it for,” LB James Harrison said.

Getting off the field on third downs seems to be a major issue for the Steelers, both in the regular season and the playoffs. Everyone seems to know that the way to beat the Steelers D is to throw, throw, and throw some more. It seems to be a plan that a lot of teams are going to try to use in 2011.

“I’d like to see us get off more consistently on third down defensively, put more consistent pressure on the quarterback and have tighter coverage in the secondary,” coach Mike Tomlin said.

Troy Polamalu has at times looked solid in preseason, but remember he’s coming off an injury that made him look very normal in last years playoffs. The LB core is as good as ever, and right now the secondary is without Ike Taylor, who has a broken finger but should be back for the opener vs the Ravens.

“We have to be closer and challenge more potential catches,” Tomlin said. “But that’s just looking at it from a knee-jerk reaction.”

Knee jerk or not, the Steelers D needs to do a better job, or the issues that have haunted them thus far in the preseason may rear their heads again starting September 11th in Baltimore.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Daddeeekip

    August 29, 2011 at 12:41 am

    IMHO l feel your prognosis is way off, yes there are things that need to be shored up. But the fact of the matter is, the defensive scheme is to bend but not break, keep receivers in front and not give up big plays. The fact that the defense only gave up 16 points against one of the better passing teams. The Falcons will carve up a lot of defenses this year and will put more points than they did against the Steelers defense. The Steelers played with reserves and were around the ball as soon a receiver caught a pass, sure there was some breakdowns but you have to live with that with young players. They did have some good coverage and made Ryan put the ball where no one could get or broke up a few passes. Lets look at this as the glass half full and not half empty. They still are trying to get cohesion from the lock out and still have not put all their regulars on the field at the same time.

  2. DrGeorge

    August 29, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I agree that Steelers’ fans should always be positive, and we have much to be grateful for in this edition of the team, but we must also be realistic about obvious flaws. Right now, the secondary is unable to stay with the top receivers in the league. Matt Ryan isn’t the only QB who knows that the way to beat the Steelers is to pass, often. The Patriots gave the league that blueprint for success two years ago, and more and more teams have taken the lesson to heart. And now, the latest rule changes have made pass defense even more difficult, and every team is pass happy. That does not bode well for the Steelers, who are still built to stop the run.

    However, the fix is not merely to find greater speed at CB and Safety, but to get to the QB. Our defensive line did not harass Ryan nearly enough. Give any NFL QB decent protection and a package of good receivers, and he will find one of them open. No secondary can cover every receiver for more than a few seconds; after that, one of them will work his way open, simply by setting up his defender and running to open space. Hines Ward and Wes Welker, who are not especially fast receivers, have made a very good living for years using this technique and their smarts.

    LeBeau needs to put more pressure on opposing QBs, perhaps by using faster ILBs on obvious passing downs. It isn’t the blitz packages that are ineffective, but the speed of the blitzing linebackers. We give up an incredibly high number of 3rd down and long conversions. If we don’t improve on that statistic this year, it will be a mediocre season of high scoring wins against mediocre teams and high scoring losses against better defenses. Mr. Loede has it right. D is the key.

  3. Dave B.

    August 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    The fact that Matt Ryan threw over forty passes in the first half alone in this game is nothing more than a preview of coming attractions . They , the Falcons and every other team in the NFL knows the way to beat the Steelers is spread the defense and fire at will . Our cornerbacks with the exception of Ike Taylor are barely average at best . When they are forced to cover an elite receiver , they struggle . Until this team , decides to spend some money on the secondary this is what we have to look forward to .

  4. Ron Baltazar

    August 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I don’t think this what the Steelers are all about, and this is coming from an Atlanta falcons fan. i think The Steelers defense has trouble with spread offenses like they did against the Packers in the superbowl.

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