We broke down the effectiveness of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushing offense the other day, which you can check out here. The focus on avoiding negative runs being on part of Alex Gibbs’ criteria to a quality rushing attack.
We’ll look at the Steelers’ rush defense today looking at that portion of the criteria. Defensively, how well did the team’s defense create negative, splash plays?
It’s a little easier and simpler to wade through the data so I’ll get straight into the data. Again, we care about relativity in our numbers. So we care about the average number of rushes per tackle for loss and will use that as our guide.
|TEAM||OPP RUSH ATT||TFL||TFL PER CARRY||RANK|
The Steelers did not test well, finishing tied for 25th with a TFL only once every 9.4 carries. That comes out to once every 2.4 times per game. I didn’t run that number for every team but the “winner” of the study, the Detroit Lions, averaged one every 3.6 times per game.
Digging a little deeper, Cameron Heyward led the team with 7 TFL. But he was the only one with at least six, making him the lone Steeler out of 72 others throughout the league. You’d like to see a better figure than that. Lawrence Timmons was second on the team with five.
If you’re curious, Troy Polamalu had just three last year.
Surprisingly, and arguably disappointingly, the 39 TFL recorded in 2014 is actually up from 2013 when they had only 35 and an atrocious 12.4 carries per TFL. I didn’t crunch the numbers but you can almost guarantee that was last in the NFL.
If there is any upside to the data, the AFC North as a whole was terrible. The Baltimore Ravens led the group, finishing in 20th place. Pittsburgh actually came out ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns, finishing 29th and 32nd respectively.
Bottom line: it’s clear the Steelers have to get more disruptive in opposing backfields in 2015.