One week after the Pittsburgh Steelers turned in an embarrassing tackling performance against the Chicago Bears in a 23-17 overtime loss, the Steelers’ defense continued its Jekyll and Hyde performance, coming through with a standout performance against the Baltimore Ravens in Maryland in Week 4.
Although it was a terrific performance from a young, improving defense, the missed tackle number was a bit higher than anticipated.
Let’s take a look.
Total missed tackles at Ravens — 12
Ryan Shazier – 4
JJ Wilcox – 2
Joe Haden – 2
Cam Heyward – 1
Sean Davis – 1
LT Walton – 1
Vince Williams – 1 (special teams)
Total missed tackles through three weeks — 57 (average of 14.25 MT per game)
Ryan Shazier – 10
Vince Williams – 6 (one on special teams)
Anthony Chickillo – 4
JJ Wilcox – 4
Sean Davis – 4
Bud Dupree – 3
TJ Watt – 3
Cameron Heyward – 3
Joe Haden – 3
William Gay – 2
Tyson Alualu – 2
Mike Mitchell – 2
Mike Hilton – 2
Javon Hargrave – 2
Tyson Alualu – 2
Stephon Tuitt – 1
Tyler Matakevich – 1
LT Walton – 1
LJ Fort – 1 (Special Teams)
Arthur Moats – 1 (Special Teams)
Ryan Shazier turned in one of the best individual performances Sunday I’ve seen from him in the four years he’s been a Steeler, so the missed tackles number from Sunday’s game against the Ravens comes with a bit of an asterisk.
Two of those missed tackles came on Baltimore’s final two drives, in which the game was more than decided. Despite raking up 11 tackles (10 solo) and an interception on the day, Shazier did lead the Steelers in missed tackles with four, but overall there’s not a much at all to be disappointed in from the fourth-year linebacker out of Ohio State.
Along with Shazier, JJ Wilcox had a really good game, but he did miss two tackles on Alex Collins’ long runs against the Steelers, which is becoming a slight concern from him in space against ball carriers, dating back to Week 3 when Tarik Cohen gave him fits on long runs.
Joe Haden has been a good cover corner for the Steelers, but he’s struggled the last two weeks in the tackling department, but it’s nothing glaring.
Overall, it was a good week in the tackling department for the Steelers as Pittsburgh had just eight missed tackles late into the fourth quarter before the Ravens got desperate in a blowout win.
On the first play of the game, it looked like the run defense was still going to be a problem for the Steelers as the Ravens’ wide zone opened up a gaping hole for Alex Collins to run through.
On film, it looks as though Shazier wasn’t really gap responsible, and Sean Davis didn’t fill that gap well enough, either, allowing Collins to race into the secondary untouched.
From there, Wilcox — starting in place of the injured Mike Mitchell — takes a poor angle to Collins near the sideline and is left grasping for his shoulders as the lumbering back runs past.
Angles are a problem at times for this defense, but fortunately this wasn’t a common occurrence on Sunday.
Collins busted loose on the Steelers defense for a second time midway through the third quarter, running a wide zone to the right this time. This was a perfectly blocked play by Baltimore, as you can see the offensive linemen work to the second level, creating a traffic jam at linebacker, allowing Collins to get into the secondary.
While you’d like to see Haden be much more physical taking on the lead blocker, Wilcox has to do a better job of breaking down in space for the tackle. He’s caught flat-footed in space, allowing Collins to run past him, again forcing Wilcox to grasp for air.
Fortunately, TJ Watt showed great hustle on the play to force Collins to cut back into the middle of the field, as Alex Kozora noted in a piece earlier this week, while Haden never quit on the play, running down the Baltimore back.
Late in the third quarter, the Ravens continued to try establishing a consistent run game with Collins, but the Steelers continued to be up to the task. Shazier knifes in to meet Collins in the backfield, but he forgets to bring his base with him, bouncing off of Collins in the hole.
Fortunately for Shazier, there’s a host of Steelers defenders around Collins, as LT Walton also misses a tackle before Tyson Alualu is able to wrestle Collins to the ground.
For the most part, the missed tackles by the Steelers weren’t egregious on Sunday, thanks to gang tackling by the defensive group. They need to continue to do that throughout the season. If they do, and the offense gets going, we could really see the Steelers take off.