Study: Why Keith Butler Needs To Start Sending Five

The sample size is small and the result maybe a little obvious but the Pittsburgh Steelers five man rush has produced the best results this season. Not burying the lede here. That’s the conclusion. Let’s show why.

After three weeks, I sifted through the weekly charting we conduct to get information like this, stuff you can’t get anywhere else.

In the table below, we’ll sort the numbers by yards per play, completion/attempts, completion percentage, touchdowns, and interceptions.

# of Rushers Yards Per Play Completions/Attempts Completion % TDs/INTs
3 6.2 19/25 76% 0/1
4 9.0 56/83 67.5% 3/1
5 4.7 3/11 27.3% 0/0

Numbers pretty much speak for themselves. It’s fair to say the sample size for five man rushes is low, officially just 11 passes (12 total plays, one was a scramble), so let’s take a look back at the yards per play from last year.

3 Man Rush: 7.1 YPP
4 Man Rush: 7.5 YPP
5 Man Rush: 4.8 YPP

That, of course, is supported from a much larger sample size. The five man rush alone has over 200 entries, begging the question of why Keith Butler has held back so much this season. In terms of actual blitzes, anyone not lined up as a defensive linemen or outside linebacker rushing, Butler’s percentage is not significantly lower, but his five man pressure is way, way down. Enron stock down.

It appears he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. Get pressure with just a four man rush, he and Mike Tomlin have professed how critical that is, and be creative with those looks.

We’ll explore some of those specifics once the coaches tape comes out, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. But big-picture, if Butler wants to not only get pressure, but put this defense in a better position to succeed, he needs to start sending one more player.


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