Steelers Preseason Defensive Charting Notes

About to gear up for the regular season but wanted to take one last look at what the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense accomplished in the preseason. These notes come from our charting notes we conduct each week.


– Our sample size is 282 defensive plays, excluding the “no play” occurrences were the ball was never snapped or negated by penalty.

– The Steelers faced 112 runs. They allowed 3.9 yards per carry. 3.6 in their base defense and 4.3 in nickel.

– Breakdown of personnel groupings.

Nickel: 173 (61.3%)
3-4: 80 (28.7%)
4-3: 26 (9.2%)
3-3-5: 3 (1.1%)

Keep in mind that 4-3, 3-3-5 all came in the second half of the finale when the team ran out of outside linebackers.

So had the team been in their base/nickel, the percentages would’ve looked like this.

Nickel: 176 (62.4%)
3-4: (37.6%)

Last year, the Steelers were in nickel 65.8% and their base 27.4%. But smaller sample size, less gameplanning, yadda yadda.

– Opposing quarterbacks completed 98/154 passes (63.6%) with 4 TDs and 3 INTs.

– For whatever it’s worth, there were 12 instances the Steelers remained in their base defense against the offense’s 11 personnel. They almost always went into their sub-package when teams went into 11 last year. Just something to watch.

– Breakdown of the numbers of pass rushers sent.

Four Man Pressure: 104 (63%)
Five Man Pressure: 34 (20.6%)
Three Man Pressure: 5 (3.0%)
Six Man Pressure: 3 (1.8%)
Seven Man Pressure: 2 (1.2%)

– The Steelers blitzed 39 times, 23.6% of the time.

– We are tracking defensive pressures this season. Your preseason leaders across all positions.

Javon Hargrave: 6
Arthur Moats: 5.5
Anthony Chickillo: 3
Jermauria Rasco: 3
Stephon Tuitt: 3
Ricardo Mathews: 2.5
James Harrison: 2
Caushaud Lyons: 2
Daniel McCullers: 2
Ryan Shazier: 2
Jarvis Jones: 1.5
Vince Williams: 1.5
Ross Cockrell: 1
Jordan Dangerfield: 1
Sean Davis: 1
L.J. Fort: 1
Doran Grant: 1
Lawrence Timmons: 1

– No Steelers, at any position, was penalized more than once.

Ok, let’s go through this thing position-by-position.

Defensive Line

Ricardo Mathews’ led the defensive line with 110 snaps. Javon Hargrave was next up with 99.

– Hargrave played 36 snaps as the team’s base nose tackle, 47.5% of all the base snaps. Daniel McCullers had 17. Lavon Hooks had 26.

– Mathews played 69 nickel snaps, Hargave 59.

– In all, the Steelers dropped a nose tackle six times in the preseason. That’s nearly 4% of the time.

– If you’re wondering who got the short end of the stick, it was Devaunte Sigler’s 22 snaps.


– Despite being an established player and recipient of a long-term deal, the Vince Williams led this group with 142 preseason snaps. L.J. Fort was next with 133 while Anthony Chickillo surpassed the 100 mark.

Tyler Matakevich had just 74 but it was enough tape for the Steelers to keep him around.

– Chickillo actually played very little on the right side. Just ten snaps. Had 86 as the LOLB. He had his hand in the ground as a left defensive end nine times.

– Despite being on the field for just 58 snaps, Arthur Moats dropped into coverage 10 times. That’s 17.2% of the time. And he still managed to get a ton of pressure. Really nice preseason.

He played both spots pretty evenly. 42 on the left, 54 on the right.

– Williams was blitzed, by himself or in tandem, nine times.

– Linebacker targets stats.

L.J. Fort: 1/3 6 yards
Lawrence Timmons: 2/4 36 yards

Defensive Backs

Sean Davis had more snaps than anyone on this defense. 185, 65.6% of the total. 113 of those came at safety, 72 at his nickel corner spot.

Artie Burns finishes his preseason with 45 snaps, of course, all coming in the finale.

Jordan Dangerfield played in the box on 24.8% of his total snaps. Of all non-11 personnel snaps, that number jumps up to 38% (19 of 50).

William Gay and Ross Cockrell played all but one of their snaps at left and right corner, respectively.

– A defensive back blitzed 18 times. Davis was sent on four of those.

– DB target stats, which I get a little more lenient on every year to improve sample size.

Artie Burns: 0/2
Sean Davis: 4/5 71 yards 1 TD (two of those came in the first game)
Doran Grant: 1/5 9 yards 1 INT

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