While all sacks are created equal in a game book or on a stat sheet, not all of them really are when you look at why and how each one happened. Throughout the offseason I plan on looking at each of 56 sacks the Pittsburgh Steelers defense registered during the 2017 regular season and attempt to contextualize each of them. This process should help identify which defensive players are earning their sacks more than others.
We’ll continue on with this series of posts by looking at and contextualizing the 3 sacks that Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt registered during the 2017 season.
Sack #1 – Week 10 vs. Colts – 4Q – 3-14-IND 21 – (11:05) (Shotgun) J.Brissett sacked at IND 12 for -9 yards (S.Tuitt) – TIME 3.70 seconds
Tuitt’s first sack of the 2017 season didn’t come until the teams Week 10 game against the Indianapolis Colts. On this fourth quarter sack, Tuitt runs a stunt with outside linebacker Bud Dupree. Tuitt, the outside crasher on the stunt, is able to get Colts right tackle Joe Haeg off balance and that allows him access to the B-gap as right guard Kyle Kalis has no chance at cutting him off. Tuitt then easily brings down Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who had misses an open out-breaking receiver to his right side.
Sack #2 – Week 11 vs. Titans – 2Q – 3-2-TEN 37 – (9:37) (Shotgun) M.Mariota sacked at TEN 31 for -6 yards (S.Tuitt) – TIME 3.76 seconds
Tuitt’s second sack of the season came against the Tennessee Titans in Week 11 and in the first half of the game. Once again, Tuitt and Dupree run a game with the former twisting behind the latter. After Dupree sets Titans right tackle Jack Conklin up, Tuitt is able to finish him off up high with his hands and that grants him free access to scrambling Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota. Tuitt just does beat fellow Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward to Mariota for the sack.
Sack #3 – Week 16 vs. Texans – 4Q – 1-10-HST 43 – (3:52) T.Yates sacked at HST 36 for -7 yards (S.Tuitt). FUMBLES (S.Tuitt) – TIME 3.50 seconds
Tuitt’s third and final sack of the season came in Week 16 against the Houston Texans and late in the game with the Steelers leading big. The Steelers stack the front against a heavy Texans personnel grouping and their front five are able to bin their collective ears back to rush quarterback T.J. Yates. Tuitt easily beats former undrafted right guard Chad Slade to the outside on this play and is able to bend the corner quickly enough to beat a few of his teammates to Yates for the sack. Tuitt also forced a fumble on this sack and Yates ultimately recovered it.
Summary: In general, you can probably classy Tuitt’s 2017 season as a disappointment and especially being as he signed a very lucrative long term contract just prior to the team’s first game. With that said, Tuitt did battle through several injuries during the season that forced him to miss four games and for all practical purposes, five in total. Tuitt’s injuries were related to his bicep and back and it resulted in the young defensive end not really hitting his stride until the second half of the season. While Tuitt only registered three sacks during the 2017 season, he just missed having a few more and the same happened during the 2016 season. If Tuitt can stay healthy in 2018 his numbers in all key categories should rebound greatly.
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: OLB Bud Dupree
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