Steelers Dick LeBeau Knows Defense Has To Fix Explosive Play Problem

If you have read this site for a while, you already know that I have an affinity for tracking the TOX stat. That stat, which tracks the differential of explosive plays and turnovers in a single game, plays a big part in whether or not a team wins or loses a game.

Explosive plays of 20 yards or more, which makes up half of the TOX stat, is something that the Pittsburgh Steelers defense normally prides themselves in on not giving up as long as defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has been calling the shots. Last season, however, while only allowing 53 explosive plays (ranked in bottom 3rd of league), which is already high for a LeBeau defense, 17 of them were double explosive plays of 40 yards or more and five of those were runs.

For the 2014 season, I will be counting double explosive plays in increments of 20 yards each as I truly believe they should count more than just one explosive play. Think back to that 93 yard touchdown run last year by Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Had he only gained 20 yards on that play, there’s a good chance that the Steelers defense would have regrouped and perhaps eventually stopped the drive without giving up a touchdown.

LeBeau knows all about explosive plays and how meaningful they are in games and on Wednesday he was asked if he knew why his defense allowed so many of them in 2013.

“We were young and we were going to the wrong places,” explained LeBeau, according to Will Graves of the Associated Press.

The Steelers will have even more youth on defense this season along with a few new faces. Rookies Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt, along with veterans Cam Thomas and Mike Mitchell, are all expected to see a considerable amount of playing time in 2014, so we will monitor the explosive play situation with a ton of anticipation. LeBeau will do the same with the hopes that the number will go down this year.

“That’s always been one of our strengths. We intend to make it (that way) again,” he said, according to Scott Brown of

Explosive Plays Given Up By Steelers Defense 2004-2013

YEAR P20+ P40+ R20+ R40+ T20+ T40+
2013 46 12 7 5 53 17
2012 31 2 6 1 37 3
2011 34 2 9 1 43 3
2010 35 7 1 0 36 7
2009 46 9 6 0 52 9
2008 23 2 4 1 27 3
2007 32 4 9 0 41 4
2006 44 8 5 1 49 9
2005 38 8 7 0 45 8
2004 33 8 6 0 39 8
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