Count Stephon Tuitt as revved up for the start of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season. He went on Instagram to talk about the improvement the defense is going to make in 2017.
If the photo won’t load for you, the caption reads:
“A bunch of young Men turning into Men in front of yours eyes. You are with us or a against us. Putting a lot of people in caskets this year. Let’s get that one.”
Tuitt is one of several players looking for an uptick in production this season. He’s coming off a four sack campaign, down from six in 2015, despite playing in the same number of games. There was the chance for a lot more and Tuitt missed several chances for more, as we pointed out in our One Step to Take series.
On the whole, there’s reason for optimism the defense will succeed. Cam Heyward returns, Bud Dupree will hit the ground running, and T.J. Watt is expected to make a immediate impact. The secondary has a year under their belt, not only for the then-rookies like Artie Burns and Sean Davis, but the veterans like William Gay and Mike Mitchell, who don’t need to play babysitter as often. It’ll also let the defense be more versatile in their coverages instead of simplifying the scheme to protect the rookies.
The graphic Tuitt showed is evidence of that. Defensively, they made the jump in every category, especially in sacks. It helped propel the team to a fantastic second half of the season and easily capturing the AFC North crown.
With a better start in 2017, not only will the defense put people “in caskets,” they’ll be that much closer to another serious Super Bowl run.