Heading into Week 13 of the 2015 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has given up the second-most amount of gross passing yards in the league. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if passing yards is something he worries about.
“I’m less concerned about the yards because yards never tell the complete story,” said Tomlin. “Sometimes, yards just might tell your number of attempts. We were up on Cleveland and they attempted to throw the ball quite a bit and sometimes yardage is associated with that.”
Tomlin went on to say what it is that he does focus on when it comes to his defense.
“I tend to focus on situational football and let that define the evaluation of performance,” said Tomlin. “We need to be better in the red area than we were last Sunday on defense. We need to be better on third down, particularly third and long than we were last week on defense. If you are, it keeps the point total down and if you’re better on third down, it eliminates subsequent downs that occur after that, that have something to do with the number of attempts.”
While Tomlin is right to point to other areas outside of total passing yards allowed as being the reason why his defense has struggled so far this season, the team’s above average defensive passing ANY/A number, which takes into account more than just passing attempts and yardage, is a huge area of concern and the history of that stat backs that up.
Over the course of the last three games, the Steelers defensive ANY/A is a staggering 8.46, which is absolutely horrible, and that has now led to Tomlin considering making a switch at cornerback in their upcoming Sunday night game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Back to passing yards allowed. Of the 13-worst teams in the league when it comes to total passing yards allowed, only three of them, the Steelers, the Colts and the New England Patriots, have a winning record. The Patriots defensive ANY/A number of 5.60, however, is one of the several reasons why they’ve only lost one game this season.
By the way, the Steelers have allowed the eighth-most amount of pass attempts so far this season while the Patriots have allowed the fourth-most.