Steelers Home Stretch Defensive Charting Notes

Haven’t written one of these up the past few weeks and it’s been about a month since I’ve compiled the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive notes. So let’s look at it one more time before our end-of-season review.

We’re using 825 plays as our guide here.

– Most common personnel the Steelers have faced this year.

11 (1 RB, 1 TE) – 70.8%
12 (1 RB, 2 TE) – 16.5%
13 (1 RB, 3 TE) – 5.6%
21 (2 RB, 1 TE) – 4.1%

11 personnel continues to rise. They saw it only 65.4% of the time last year. It’s an increase of about 5%.

– And in turn, the defensive personnel Pittsburgh has been in.

Nickel: 62.8%
3-4: 28.5%
Dime: 6.7%
Little Nickel (4 CBs, 1 S): 1.0%
Goal Line: .6%
3-5: .5%

Nickel is down this season. Slightly. Last year they were in nickel 65.8% of the time. Their 3-4 is up a tick, about a percent from 27.4%.

Despite dime only being used three times since Week 7, it’s still more than it was last year when it was at a 5.5% clip.

– The Steelers are doing a nice job on third and short this year. Opponents have only converted 58.3% of their 3rd and 1-2 conversions this season.

– Offenses have 550 dropbacks this year.

Of those 550, Keith Butler has rushed 5+ defenders 27.5% of the time on the entire season. That’s up from the 23% when we last checked on November 18th, right before the four game winning streak began.

And way up from 16.6% from the first four weeks.

Over this winning streak, Butler has sent 5+ a whopping 37%.

For the year, he’s sent a four man blitz 29.9%.

Let’s break things down by position.

Defensive Line 

– Pittsburgh has run their stunt 4-3 – their over shift with a cocked nose tackle – 83 times this season.

Javon Hargrave has been the nose tackle in their 3-4/3-5  65.3% of the time this year. Daniel McCullers has been the guy 33.5% though of course, that’s partially influenced by Hargrave missing last week.

Take the Buffalo Bills‘ game away and McCullers is at 28.7%. Hargrave is at 70%.

– On all runs with Hargrave in the middle, offenses are averaging 4.1 YPC. McCullers is at 2.9 YPC.

On those runs up the middle, Hargrave’s defense is allowing 3.6 YPC. For McCullers? 2.7.

Defensive Line Pressures:

Stephon Tuitt: 19.5
Cam Heyward: 6.5
Javon Hargrave: 5
Ricardo Mathews: 3.5
Daniel McCullers: 3
L.T. Walton: .5

Stat with more context. Snaps per pressure (lower the number, the better)

McCullers: 21.7
Tuitt: 24.8
Heyward: 36.6
Hargrave: 39.2
Mathews: 45.7
Walton: 104

– Combined, defensive linemen have dropped into coverage 16 times this season. That’s 2.9% of the time.


OLB drop percentage, one of my favorite stats to look at.

James Harrison: 32.9%
Jarvis Jones: 28.3%
Anthony Chickillo: 21.3%
Arthur Moats: 20.7%
Bud Dupree: 20%

These stats align into what we saw last year. The right side drops more than the left.

Dupree in total, pass and run, has played 87 snaps on the left side and 15 snaps on the right. Another two as an inside linebacker with neither side designated.

OLB pressures.

Harrison: 17.5
Moats: 9.5
Jones: 7
Chickillo: 6.5
Dupree: 3

Snaps per pressure (lower the number, the better):

Harrison: 17.2
Dupree: 23.3
Moats: 25.9
Chickillo: 31.8
Jones: 39.4

Ryan Shazier has been blitzed on 75 snaps this year, or over 13% of the time. Lawrence Timmons isn’t far behind with 69 blitzes.

– The last time Shazier wasn’t on the field for the Steelers’ defense? Week 7 against the New England Patriots. That was 392 snaps ago. Call him Mr. Durable.

Defensive Backs

– The Steelers haven’t shadowed much over the winning streak. Artie Burns has played his right cornerback spot 83.5% of the time over that span.

Compare that to the four game losing streak when he was at RCB on only 69.6% of the snaps.

– Notable target stats:

Artie Burns: 8/25 197 yards 2 TD 3 INT
Ross Cockrell: 11/26 161 yards 1 TD 0 INT
William Gay: 6/13 113 yards 1 TD 1 INT
Mike Mitchell: 3/12 44 yards 0 TD 1 INT
Sean Davis: 3/7 43 yards 1 TD 1 INT

– Gay and Mike Mitchell are tied for the secondary blitz lead with 17 times being sent.

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