Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter will certainly have his hands full in 2015 when it comes to making sure his unit gets consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks in addition to sacks. Outside of veteran James Harrison, Porter’s group of outside linebackers are not only young, they’re also unproven when it comes to getting after the passer. During a recent interview with Mike Prisuta of DVE Radio, Porter talked about how becoming a good pass rusher takes a multifaceted approach.
“If you don’t have the relentlessness, or the pass-rushing mentality, like, I look at pass rushers like it’s a fight within a fight, because you’re one-on-one with that guy. You got to beat him, he’s trying to stop you,” said Porter, who is entering his second season as a coach with the Steelers. “Getting off the ball is definitely key, because if you don’t have a fast get-off, you’re not going to get there.
“Sometimes you get to fight over quick, like a knock-out punch. If your first step is wicked, you just might beat the guy before he gets out of his set and you got him. Now, what happens when you have a [Kelvin] Beachum that has good feet and you get off the ball and he gets off the ball? Now it comes into what kind of move you’re going to put on him. Are you a spinner? Are you a bull-rusher? Do you have an inside move? And I think the best pass-rushers have more than one move.”
During his 13 seasons in the league, of which the first eight came as a member of the Steelers, Porter registered 98 career regular-season sacks. During his talk with Prisuta, Porter explained how he managed to get to that number.
“My thing was, I take the guy with a speed rush and put him in the deep end of the pool and just keep beating him with speed,” Porter explained. “And once I get him jumping out, because he’s worried about speed – he gets to jumping out – well now you’re leaving the inside move for me.
“I done beat a lot of guys with the inside move, now you get to chase me with the inside move and I fake you in, because I just beat you in. Now, if I just beat you inside on the play before and I go to take the inside, you’re going to crash down hard and you go in and I come out.”
So, what is Porter trying to teach his young players when it comes to rushing the passer?
“If you’re going to be a one-trick pony, you better have a damn good trick, because a good pass-rusher has a compliment to their favorite move and you got to have a compliment to your favorite move,” Porter said.
While sacks aren’t everything, the Steelers defense only recorded 33 of them in 2014 and that was the lowest amount since 1989. Last year’s team leaders included outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who has since retired from football. This season, Jarvis Jones and Arthur Moats are both likely to begin the season as the starters. However, Harrison is expected to see his fair share of snaps during games and rookie draft pick Bud Dupree should likely start to see the field some as the season progresses. All four of those linebackers have combined to register 83.5 sacks in the NFL. 71.5 of those, however, belong to Harrison, who certainly isn’t considered a one-trick pony.