The Pittsburgh Steelers’ passing defense may have improved this season, but that does not mean that they are satisfied. They currently rank second in yards allowed per game, and also remains second in giving up 6.2 yards per pass attempt, but they are also coming off a pretty ugly game despite not allowing any touchdowns.
In truth, the Steelers have actually allowed only six touchdown passes all season, which is second-best behind only the Jaguars, who have astonishingly allowed only four through the air so far. Even if teams load up on rushing touchdowns against you, that is still a low total through eight games.
But when it comes to taking the ball away, the defense is only in the middle of the pack, and defensive coordinator Keith Butler wants to see that changed. While he said that their “sack total is okay”, he said they “still want to be the best” and “hopefully we can cause some turnovers”.
The Steelers currently have seven interceptions on the season, which places them dead-center in the middle of the pack, quite literally. The 15 through 17 positions all share a three-way tie with seven interceptions, right in the heart of average.
One of the other teams in that group is their upcoming opponent, the Colts, though to be fair, they did play an extra game to this point. Still, the Steelers are averaging fewer than an interception per game, and they have a negative turnover differential overall.
Butler reminded, “if you look at all those stats, probably the biggest stat there is the turnover-takeaway ratio in how many points they score”. To that end, he wants his defense to help in turning that around. “We’ve had our hands on a lot of footballs. And we need to catch those balls”, he said.
“If we catch them I think they’ll be up where they’re supposed to be”, Butler went on to say. And it’s true that the Steelers have gotten a fair number of passes defensed, though not a number that I would consider exceptionally high.
But they have definitely dropped some interceptions, including a few off the top of my head from William Gay, Ryan Shazier, and Mike Mitchell. Safety Sean Davis nearly had an interception on a touchdown-saving pass defensed in the end zone a few weeks ago.
The Steelers have some cornerbacks who are supposed to have good ball skills in their starting lineup now, yet they only have one interception between them currently, and even that came off a deflection on a bad pass that was basically scooped off the back of the intended target.
I tend to agree with Butler here. The Steelers need to do a better job of turning the ball over. While they have pretty good defensive numbers overall, I don’t think they are good enough to sustain this team without producing more impact plays.