Midseason Steelers’ Defensive Charting Notes

Your midseason Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive charting notes from the first nine games.

As our guide, we have 589 total plays we’re looking at. They’re on pace for about 1047, a slight dip from 2015 but not by much.

– The top personnel packages this season.

Nickel: 61.1%
3-4: 29%
Dime: 8.8%

These are fairly similar to where things stacked up last year.

After playing a ton of dime in the first two weeks, they’ve had only 13 snaps of it since then. And none in the last two weeks.

– For whatever it’s worth, and we don’t have a figure to compare this to, offenses are just 23/40 on 3rd and 3 or closer.

– Last year, the Steelers stayed in their base 3-4 only 14 times against 11 personnel. This season, with obviously a lot fewer plays, they’ve already down it 22 times. It’s up about 3.7% from 2015.

– Because I know this is one of the biggest stats we pull from this, the Steelers have sent 5+ rushers on 23% of their opportunities.

Over the past two games however, that number is way way up. 52.6% of the time.

– Same with overall blitzes.

The seasonal number has spiked back up to 34.5% to the point that is surpasses last year’s Keith Butler total of 33.3%.

This is again in large part due to the last two weeks where his blitz rate is up to 57.9%.

He’s sent a four man blitz 23.6% of the time this year.

– Pressure stats:

James Harrison: 12
Stephon Tuitt: 12
Arthur Moats: 8
Jarvis Jones: 7
Cam Heyward: 6.5
Ryan Shazier: 6.5
Anthony Chickillo: 5
Ricardo Mathews: 3
Javon Hargrave: 2
Daniel McCullers: 2

A look at each position group.

Defensive Line

– As we told you earlier in the week, Stephon Tuitt has played 178 consecutive snaps. I believe the only other ones to do that over this span are Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, and Mike Mitchell.

Tuitt hasn’t had more than three consecutive snaps off since Week 5 against the New York Jets.

Javon Hargrave has played 70.7% of the 3-4 nose tackle snaps this year. Daniel McCullers is at 28.7%.

– Though I understand the numbers lack context, when Hargrave is on the field in their 3-4, teams are averaging 4.4 yards per carry. With McCullers, that number drops to 2.7.

– Since Week 7, Ricardo Mathews’ snap percentage has dropped to 17.3%. The first six weeks, he was at 24.4%.


– Good news! Ryan Shazier has played the 100% of the snaps the last two games.

– OLB snap count comparisons.

Jarvis Jones: 57.6%
James Harrison: 48.7%

Arthur Moats: 54.2%
Anthony Chickillo: 37.6%

Coverage numbers for each:

James Harrison: 27.3%
Jarvis Jones: 23.3%
Anthony Chickillo: 22.3%
Arthur Moats: 21.8%

Snaps per pressure for each. Lower the number, the better.

James Harrison: 11.8
Arthur Moats: 19.8
Anthony Chickillo: 21.6
Jarvis Jones: 24

And that is why we know Harrison is still their best pass rusher.


Mike Mitchell leads the Steelers with 15 blitzes. He has two pressures on those.

Robert Golden has been a strong safety in the box 33.6%% of the time this season. Compare that to Sean Davis, who is at 20.4%.

– Target numbers:

William Gay: 5/7 101 yards 1 TD 0 INT
Mike Mitchell: 2/8 29 yards 0 TD 0 INT
Artie Burns: 5/16 158 yards 1 TD 1 INT
Sean Davis: 2/2 35 yards 0 TD 0 INT
Ross Cockrell: 8/17 84 yards 1 TD 0 INT

– Burns leads the secondary with four penalties.


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