Kirwan: Examining Blitz Rate Success

We’ve spent a ton of the offseason discussing Keith Butler’s blitz trends. We’ve concluded he is blitzing more often and generally, playing more aggressively than Dick LeBeau’s later years. But how successful is he?

Pat Kirwan examined league-wide trends over at Real Football Network. He looked at the ratio of blitzes to sacks for each team. As you’ll see in the video below, you can see Pittsburgh finished 4th in the league with one sack for every 8.6 blitz attempts.

I went back and looked at our charting data to see how our numbers compare. I found similar, though not exact numbers. In the regular season, the Steelers averaged one sack for every 8.1 blitzes (30/243). If you include the playoffs, that number jumps slightly to once every 8.9 blitzes (31 of 276).

Our criteria is however slightly different. Kirwan only counts at least a five man rush as a blitz. We include four man rushes as blitzes if a non DL or OLB rushes. It only makes sense. If a cornerback comes from the slot on a four man rush, it’s a blitz, not a normal rush.

If you’re curious, Stephon Tuitt led the team in sacks on blitzes with 4.5. Will Allen and James Harrison tied for second with four.

Regardless, the Steelers’ blitz had a ton of success last season. Though we’ve recognized the need to improve their four man rush, if the team needs to compensate by continuing to blitz, they should have another strong year.

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