Through their first two games of the 2014 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has only managed to register two sacks while failing to register a turnover. When you add that to their inability to stop the run, it’s wound up being a recipe for them allowing 53 points in their first two games.
The lack of sacks and turnovers is nothing new, however, as the 2013 version of the Steelers defense failed to register a turnover until their fifth game and only had four sacks after coming back home from their fourth game in London.
Dating back to 2011, the Steelers defense is last in total turnovers with 55 and their 106 total sacks, while not the worst in the league during that span, is just five away from being the fourth least.
From 2008-2010, the Steelers managed to get to two Super Bowls and during those three seasons their defense registered 80 turnovers and 146 sacks. 101 of those sacks came when the team had a lead as did 51 of the turnovers.
A lot of the Steelers problems the last few years when it comes to their lack of sacks and turnovers stems from them failing to stop the run or short pass on early downs.
The defense that Dick LeBeau likes to run is predicated on putting opposing offenses in predictable situations where the quarterback is forced to hold on to the football a second longer while under a heavy pass rush complete with a blitzer. That hasn’t happened nearly enough over the course of the last three seasons nor has it happened enough in the first two games of the 2014 season.
Until the Steelers defense can show that they can stop these early down gains, there’s no reason to think that things are going to improve in the turnover and sack stat categories on defense unless the offense provides them a big lead. However, as we saw back in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, that’s no longer something we can fully count on like we could in previous years.