Heading into Week 15 of the 2015 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense leads the league in both red zone takeaways (7) as well as takeaways inside their own 10-yard-line (4). During his Thursday interview on Steelers Nation Radio, defensive coordinator Keith Butler chalked up that takeaway success to the team utilizing the 7-shots drill every week in practice.
“We work on this every Thursday and Friday,” said Butler. “Seven shots, we do it every Thursday and Friday. It’s really a two-point play but it happens to be inside the 5-yard-line for us. A lot of teams have a different personality from 10 and out, but once they get inside the 10, they do certain things, or try to do certain things, to score as our offense does.
“And they also try new stuff on us to see if it works on us and if it works on us they feel like it will work on Sunday. So we just do the same thing. We try maybe new stuff, or we try what we feel like will work against our offense. And if it works against our offense, you know our offense is not shabby, so we feel like we’ll have a chance with it down there.”
So far this season, the Steelers defense has allowed 14 total touchdowns on plays that started on their own 10-yard-line and closer and only seven teams have allowed fewer than that. It’s also worth noting that only 22.6% of the offensive plays run against them in that area of the field have resulted in scores and that’s currently second-best in the league behind the New York Jets.
The Steelers defense has been described this season as one that bends quite a bit but doesn’t break very often and the stats, for the most part, back that up. However, moving forward, it would be nice to see Butler’s unit not bend so much so that they don’t have rely on getting turnovers deep in their own end.