According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, last season, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward became the first Steelers defensive end since Keith Willis in 1986 to lead the Steelers in sacks. While his 7.5 quarterback takedowns last season technically tied him for the team lead with former linebacker Jason Worilds, it was an impressive feat that was perfectly timed being as the former first-round draft pick is due a new contract this offseason.
Heyward, however, believes he can top that 7.5 number in 2015.
“I think I left some on the table. Some got taken away by penalties,” Heyward told Bouchette. “I’m shooting for double digits. I expect that out of myself, and that means other guys have to step up, too. If I can eat, then everybody else can eat and vice versa.
“I expect more for myself; I’m not going to settle for 7.5 (sacks).”
Double-digit sacks is quite a goal for a Steelers defensive end as the team has not had any defensive player hit those kind of numbers since outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley registered 10.5 and 10 sacks, respectively, in 2010.
Last season, the Steelers defense also only recorded 33 sacks and you have to go all the back to 1989 to find a season in which they recorded less than that. The team has suffered in the sack stat department since that 2010 season and hopefully if Heyward is unable to hit double-digits, him needing extra attention from the opposition will hopefully allow one of the outside linebackers to register quarterback takedowns instead.
Now that NFL defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Corey Liuget have both received contract extensions from their respective teams, we can expect Heyward’s forthcoming deal to be similar to those two. He’s quickly become a team leader on the defensive side of the football and is helping mentor second-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt in addition.
While double-digit sacks for Heyward in 2015 is probably unlikely, it’s not impossible. Players need to have goals and the Ohio State product certainly has his set for the upcoming season.