Much like I did last week for the New Orleans Saints game, I tracked the missed tackles for the Pittsburgh Steelersin the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers last Thursday.
Against the Saints, Steelers defenders missed 14 tackles by my count. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, it didn’t get much better against the Panthers as I counted 18 missed tackles from a Steelers defense that featured plenty of guys fighting for roster spots.
Let’s take a look at the culprits from Thursday.
Ray Vinopal: 3
Tyler Matakevich: 2
Vince Williams: 2
Anthony Chickillo: 2
Doran Grant: 2
Jordan Dangerfield: 2
Lavon Hooks: 1
Montell Garner: 1
Steven Johnson: 1
Greg Warren: 1
Jermauria Rasco: 1
Just four players on that list (counting Greg Warren) made the 53-man roster, so there’s not much to be concerned about here, but for those fighting for roster spots it wasn’t a great night.
In regards to those that made the roster though, let’s take a look at those missed tackles.
On this screen to Carolina running back Cameron Artis-Payne, Williams has a clear path to the ball carrier. A subtle little move in the hole leaves Williams whiffing at air.
For a guy who’s as sound a tackler as they come on this roster, that’s a play that Williams has to make, so that’s why I counted it as a missed tackle despite not getting a hand on him.
Due to the missed tackle, Artis-Payne is able to pick up a big chunk of yards. Williams has to come in under control and break down on this play instead of just flying straight in. By coming in out of control that allowed Artis-Payne to make a slight change of direction to leave Williams grasping for air.
For all the hype Anthony Chickillo has gotten as a pass rusher throughout camp, I just haven’t seen much from him in actual game situations.
Here, the second-year linebacker is able to work his way back into the pocket and get a hand on Carolina quarterback Joe Webb, but he’s not able to finish the play. To make matters worse, defense tackle Lavon Hooks goes diving at Webb’s ankles and barely gets a piece of him.
I get that Chickillo has an offensive tackle to deal with as well on this play, but that’s a sack that he has to finish. He’s a powerful guy, so it’s disappointing to see a QB like Webb pull away from his grip.
At this point, what can you say about Doran Grant. The guy knows how to tackle; that’s been very evident throughout training camp and preseason games, but in bad conditions in Carolina, Grant comes up small here on the tackle attempt of Carolina running back Brandon Wegher on the perimeter run.
Due to the missed tackle, Wegher is able to pick up the first down on a solid run, leading to three points for the Panthers.
What Grant does wrong here is diving at legs and not attempting to wrap up Wegher’s thick legs. He tries to dive and knock him off balance and that won’t work with a running back of Wegher’s size. You have to wrap up and Grant failed to do that here.
It’s a shame he was cut, but too many mental errors during the preseason and a poor game against Carolina to cap it off likely sealed his fate.
The final GIF I wanted to show you has three Steelers defensive backs missing tackles on one simple screen pass to Carolina wide receiver Kevin Norwood, who’s not known as a strong runner.
Immediately, Grant misses a tackle. From there, Dangerfield comes flying in and misses the tackle as well before Garner also gets his hands on Norwood and can’t finish the play.
At the start, Grant goes low again and hopes to get an ankle, but in wet conditions that just isn’t good enough. Dangerfield comes in out of control and simply slides right over the top of Norwood, which leads us to Garner.
That’s a terrible attempt at an arm tackle on a guy who just got through two other weak tackle attempts.
Fortunately for Grant and Dangerfield, they’re able to get back into the play and wrestle Norwood to the ground.
Overall for Pittsburgh this preseason, tackling has been an issue. Hopefully these last four games has been a wake-up call for defenders and the tackling issues disappear once the regular season starts.
We’ll see though, so stayed tuned for my breakdown on missed tackles following Week One’s Monday Night Football matchup with Washington.