The noise seems to have died down over the past year, and especially the past couple of months, but I have no doubt that there is still a large sub-section of the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base that remains convinced the only reason fourth-year nose tackle Daniel McCullers is not taking the world by storm is because the coaches are not playing him more.
While he has noted that he is trying to add a spin move into his repertoire in order to help him stay on the field during passing situations and thus get more snaps, there have been multiple prominent names in recent months giving very serious votes of no confidence about McCullers even making the roster again in 2017.
Personally, I have a hard time imagining him growing much further beyond the type of player that he already is at this stage in his career. I believe that we would have seen more from him by now if there were much more to show.
Even his position coach and teammates along the defensive lines are consistently dropping quotes to the media when talking about him that he needs to ‘step up’, ‘grow up’, and generally live up to the potential that others see in him.
For those who continue to see the potential in him, then, I have a statistic for you that you might be interested in, though it is a bit of a small window. According to a graphic that Pro Football Focus posted on Twitter last night, McCullers rounded out the 2016 regular season as one of the best interior defenders against the run.
Specifically, the graphic hones in on the last five weeks of the season, from Week 13 to Week 17, and is actually designed to highlight Leonard Williams, who recorded a run stop on greater than 20 percent of his snaps against the run.
Leonard William finished last season on a tear pic.twitter.com/Z9WsrZwSZ9
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 13, 2017
But McCullers was second there, registering a run stop on 15.8 percent of his snaps against the run during that same time span. Interestingly enough, McCullers didn’t even play much in the first two weeks of that span, but he registered eight tackles (not nine, if you look at his numbers) over the course of the last three weeks of the year.
That would make sense, given that it coincides with the injury to Stephon Tuitt late in the season. And to his credit he did record seven run stops in those games.
As a reminder, a run stop is a tackle that prevents a ball carrier from delivering a successful play for the offense. On the eight plays on which he recorded a tackle against the run, the offense picked up just 11 yards, only one being a positive play, and that a three-yard gain on second and one.