Pittsburgh Steelers’ race defense issues might not be easy to fix

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As the Steelers managed to win the game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6, the Seattle Seahawks ‘third quarter dominance of running play created a lot of questions about the Steelers’ defense. Although they found a way to fix the problem later in the game, in this movie theater I’m going to show how this particular fix is ​​not sustainable.

Steelers v Seahawks, 1st quarter, 11:42

Alex Highsmith is the on-board rusher on the left side of the screen. Joe Schobert is the linebacker in the middle of the screen.

It’s early in the game. The Seahawks’ doubles team Cameron Heyward, and as he walks away for the tackle, the doubles team puts Heyward aside enough to gain yards. Alex Highsmith does a great job winning on the inside, but an unnamed grab keeps him from doing more. Defensive backs aren’t a big part of the game here, Cameron Sutton faces a tight end and Terrell Edmunds is coming back from a deepcourt assignment, he’s nothing more than a containment role.

While the big deal here is uncalled detention, look at Joe Schobert. I wasn’t a fan of his playing on this game he is approaching the line but seems to just follow the game instead of attacking it. I spoke to KT Smith for a second opinion, his response:

He has to think less there and just react. If he closes the gap the moment he opens, he either goes to the back in the backfield or he forces it deeper.

This is how the Steelers defense works. They are built to be aggressive, force the attack in the wrong places and let their athletic players reach for the ball and finish the game. The Steelers’ defense is best when it attacks and forces the action, not when it looks and continues.

Steelers vs. Seahawks, 1st quarter, 8:04 a.m.

Chris Wormley (# 95) is the defensive tackle and Joe Schobert (# 93) is the right line linebacker.


To follow up on this first film, compare a few players here. First, Cameron Heyward does his thing, has the guard at arm’s length and defends his entire side of the game. Watch how he wins his positioning, watch his feet and his lean, he attacks the gap and the control. Watch Alex Highsmith give way at first, but fight through the block to get back to his place. Watch Devin Bush (LB in the middle) run to the side of the play and engage the center with a good shove. Because of this, he is able to get out of the block to come back to the cut back.

Now compare that to Chris Wormley and Joe Schobert from across the room. Wormley is easily kicked out of his position, clearing the way for reduction, and Joe Schobert lets the tight end put both hands on him as he seems, at least to me, more concerned with getting to a spot than attacking. the block.

Steelers v Seahawks, 1st quarter, 6:37

Chris Wormley is the defensive tackle on the right side of the screen.


Look at Devin Bush on this piece. He breaks on that play immediately, attacking his gap and pulling through. Bush is forcing the reduction.

The problem is, Chris Wormley is completely left out of the game and a huge reduction path is open for the runner. Terrell Edmunds reads the flow and stands up to close that gap, but the gap is big enough for Alex Collins to cut inside him, following blockers who beat Wormley. As Collins cuts for the second time, Terrell Edmunds is defending all of midfield, all of the space between the hash marks. Sure, it would be great if Edmunds made the play, but any NFL start should be able to beat a safety when they have that much space.

The Seahawks and Steelers ended the first quarter in a 0-0 stalemate. In the second quarter, the Seahawks didn’t call a single point. They technically had one point for a loss, but it was kneeling to end the half.

By the end of the second half, it was clear someone from the Seahawks had been paying attention in the first quarter.

Steelers v Seahawks, 3rd quarter, 2:22 pm

Chris Wormley (# 95) and Joe Schobert (# 93) are on the left side of the screen.


Chris Wormley loses badly at the point of attack, Joe Schobert is engulfed and moved through the center and it’s a nice hole and another clash with Terrell Edmunds in space.

Steelers v Seahawks, 3rd quarter, 11:53

Chris Wormley (# 95) and Joe Schobert (# 93) are on the left side of the screen.


Wormley loses this one even worse and Joe Schobert appears to be trying to avoid getting hit by the tight end. Compare to Devin Bush, who meets his blocker, gives up very little ground and leaves that block to help make the tackle.

Finally notice TJ Watt, you can also watch the other games, TJ Watt pushes the passer first. The Steelers have TJ Watt for the quarterback, he’s not a main defenseman. It makes sense because he’s so good at it, and it’s not like there’s a bunch of other guys heading to QB right now.

Steelers v Seahawks, 3rd quarter, 11:16

Cameron Heyward (# 97) is the defensive tackle on the right side of the screen.


Cameron Heyward drives to help close the growing gap in front of him. Devin Bush also comes to support this gap. This opens up another great downsizing route for the Seahawks racer. Again, watch Joe Schobert on this piece. He just accepts the block as the runner comes towards him again.

After that first touchdown when the Seahawks ran nine of ten games, the Steelers made an adjustment, they went all-in against the run.

Steelers v Seahawks, 3rd quarter, 5:35

TJ Watt is the on-board rusher on the left side of the screen.


Isaiahh Loudermilk is playing the game here, and it would be easy to just say Loudermilk was the solution, but Loudermilk isn’t the one to destroy the offense. TJ Watt heads inside, separating two linemen to get directly in the runner’s path, forcing the run to the outside where Isaiahh Loudermilk is unlocked because Watt released his blocker.

Steelers v Seahawks, 3rd quarter, 3:32

TJ Watt is the on-board rusher on the left side of the screen.


After a play action pass at a tight wide open end, the Seahawks moved closer to the goal line, we get this play. Again, TJ Watt single-handedly destroys his side of the offensive line, and Chris Wormley and Cameron Heyward are able to make the tackle after Schobert and Watt miss him in the backfield.

Great. Problem solved, TJ Watt just needs to be the Steelers’ main defenseman.

Steelers v Seahawks, 3rd quarter, 3:06

TJ Watt is the on-board rusher on the left side of the screen.


Yes.

TJ Watt is doing well for the quarterback normally making plays like this reckless for the offense. But at this point in the game, Watt is all about running defense, and this RPO beats Watt as a non-illegal choice route releases the tight end for the score.

The Steelers were faced with a dilemma, were destroyed by the running game, or took TJ Watt’s pass out of the equation and are hoping Geno Smith can’t take advantage of it.

Steelers v Seahawks, 4th quarter, 7:29

TJ Watt is the on-board rusher on the right side of the screen.


They chose to jam the race.

With a few side tweaks, the Steelers were able to slow down the Seahawks ‘passing, and it took the Seahawks’ last practice of the game to get their passing play to go down enough to get another basket.

In overtime, the Steelers let go of TJ Watt and the Seahawks pulled away from the race again. TJ Watt’s 2 sacks and a forced fumble gave the Steelers the victory after almost single-handedly stopping the Seahawks game for most of the half.


Looking towards the brown

The Steelers were able to play and not get beaten by Geno Smith in Week 6, but the issues they faced in a road racing game will be on the minds of the Cleveland Browns as the Steelers move on. make it to face the rushed No. 1 offense in both yards per game and yards per carry.

Additionally, Kevin Stefanski has an offense that relies heavily on playing action and attacking teams selling to defend the run. TJ Watt’s big games against Cleveland came about when the team can slow down the Browns’ rushed offense without forcing TJ Watt to go all-in on run defense. Because then he’s in a play position when the Browns are throwing play action.

If the Steelers can get a more aggressive run defense from all of their first seven, they may be able to hold out against the Browns.

If TJ Watt is to play the role of a race-packed defensive tackle, expect Kevin Stefanski and Baker Mayfield to do a better job than the Seahawks in taking advantage.


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