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Can the Steelers Find a Pass Rush in 2015?

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers

The wild card loss to the Ravens was frustrating for so many reasons, but one of the big ones was the fact that Ravens QB Joe Flacco seemed to have forever to throw the football.

When Flacco rolled out no one seemed to be able to catch up to him, and on the Ravens TD that increased the lead to 20-9 he escaped pressure a few times.

In 2015, the defense as everyone knows, needs to get better, but a big part of that needs to start with a pass rush that put up just 33 sacks in 2014, 26th in the NFL.

“We need to be able to pressure the quarterback more consistently,” team president Art Rooney II said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“I think that as a defense, we’ve got to get more sacks and put more pressure on the quarterback. That’s a key piece of the puzzle we have to look at as we build this defense going into next year.”

A lot of that is placed solely on a group of young players, linebackers and D-linemen who need to step up, make a LOT more plays, and make sure there’s heat on the QB in or outside the pocket.

James Harrison is 36 and a free agent, and while one would think he would be open to a return, the team can’t count on just him, and they need production from players like Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt and others to turn up the heat on QB’s.

In 2014 Jason Worilds had 7.5 sacks, but overall his play was down from 2013 and he’s a free agent as well. Cam Heyward seems to be stepping into his own, and he also had 7.5 sacks to tie for the team lead.

In the end though, it’s not enough, and whether it’s through the draft or free agency, the Steelers need more heat – and quickly – if this team is going to be a contender in the AFC next season.

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.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. DrGeorge

    January 25, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    The Steelers pass rush has a long way to go to match the pass rush of the Ravens. Tuitt is promising, Heyward has justified his draft position, and McCullers and McClendon are growing into their roles. Jarvis Jones and Shazier have speed, but they lack strength and durability, and James Harrison, at 36, is only in the mix because the Steelers are so lacking in talent. Keith Butler may use these men a bit differently than LeBeau, but without a talent infusion, Butler can’t expect any better results than we had in 2014.

    Of course, the reason our pass rush looks anemic against the Ravens is that their O-line is pretty darn good. Whereas our O-line caved against the Ravens D-line. The Ravens got to Ben with just four down lineman against our five, allowing seven men to cover our receivers. Until we can get pressure on opposing QBs with just four D-linemen, we are not going to be competitive against the better teams in the NFL. And until we address our secondary issues, we will continue to give away points faster than the offense can score them. The pass rush and pass coverage go together; they are converse sides of the same coin. The fix will not be cheap.

    Rooney III in his post-season press conference admitted that our D needs work. Whether there is the will and the money to upgrade the D with better talent this year, however, remains to be seen. And the infusion must start during free agency. We simply don’t have enough draft picks to fill all the holes, and rookies are rarely capable of contributing right away. In short, it is going to take two or more years to bring our D up to the level of the Ravens, even if there are no set-backs — and there almost always are.

  2. Dave B.

    January 25, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Free agency is a must for the Steelers . There is no way they are going to fix the defense with just the draft . They must be players and Art and Dan are going to have to open the checkbook . That may not be the Steeler way , but they are in a position now where they simply have no choice .

  3. jay

    January 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve been saying this for years…Yeah I say a lot of (other) asinine things on here mostly shrouded inner and contempt but this topic on which Dave and Doc have shared is a reflective sentiment of mine since the post Kordell Stewart days. Not saying we need to be gluttonous douche bags like the Redskins when it comes to free agency…but with a franchise quarterback (of whom I have gotten on recently for his lack of “clutch” production), the team NEEDS to maybe get less players (than last year) but those that they do get should be HIGHER caliber than last year! I’d give Worilds a pretty penny to stay but if it gets into the echelon of Justin Houston type of money, then why not just get in the Houston bidding instead? Also, I’d also retain McCain, Gay and Blake which would mitigate the need to TOTALLY PRIORITIZE CB. That way, CB would still need to be A PRIORITY in lieu of THE PRIORITY! You still have Cortez Allen who will and should get another shot to redeem himself (unless the team deems his post March 1st cap hit too excessive)…Hell, maybe give him a shot at FS…All he’d have to do is gain a few pounds. Not sure if he’s physical enough though…maybe someone who knows more can comment on that suggestion with more than a, “No way, Allen at FS?!? Are you crazy!?” I ask because I feel Mitchell is better in the box as a SS (as in addition through subtraction…take him out of the deep middle where he kind of sucked last year and put him in more of a run stopper position). I don’t think a rookie (whether it be 1st round, 2nd or 3rd round) OLB can come in and contribute right away which is why the aforementioned retention of Worilds I feel is important—maybe Butler will ask him to rush more than LeBeau did! I do feel, however and contrary to most people’s opinions, that one or even two of the first three picks could go to offense if there is a dominant TE and/or LT still on the board. The team also needs another RB. Defense is obviously the bigger area of need but since the offense, for the most part, is ready to win now, why go and stock up on ALL D unless you are in a total rebuild which I believe the Steelers are not so much that JJ and Shazier step up as well as Shemarko and Worilds is retained. I heard of a big, athletic NT from Washington named Shelton! Any chance we grab him and resign either Worilds or antoerh (big name OLB) and maybe a mid to high level corner or safety? and then go and get a TE in the 2nd or third? Thoughts?

  4. jay

    January 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    *anger and contempt

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