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 one sack that Steelers inside linebacker Sean Spence registered during the 2017 season.
Sack #1 – Week 16 vs. Texans – 4Q – 1-10-HST 38 – (8:14) T.Yates sacked at HST 34 for -4 yards (S.Spence) – TIME 3.29 seconds
Spence’s one and only sack for the Steelers came late in the team’s Week 16 blowout win over the Houston Texans. There’s not too much to contextualize on this sack but here it goes. It was a 1st and 10 play with 8:14 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Texans trailing 34-6. The play, a two-man route out of a heavy personnel grouping against a cover-1 defense, included a worthless play-action fake. Spence, on the weak-side of the formation. is afforded the opportunity to rush Texans quarterback T.J. Yates through the B-gap thanks to a wide rush by outside linebacker Bud Dupree and great penetration on the right guard by defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt’s penetration prevents the center from being able to cut off Spence and after Dupree forces Yates to step up in the pocket, the inside linebacker gets the easy sack. Yates had nowhere to throw the football, regardless as his heavy personnel grouping included seven offensive linemen.
Summary: Spence was signed by the Steelers after starting inside linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a season-ending back injury in Week 13 and while he played extensively once he joined the team, it became quite obvious very quickly as to why he was unemployed most of the season. Past injuries have robbed Spence of his quickness and sideline-to-sideline effectiveness. While we did see him rush the passer effectively a few times after he was signed, that’s clearly not his main role as a weak-side inside linebacker. While there’s a small chance that Spence might be re-signed during the offseason for the minimum, if that happens he certainly won’t be a lock to make the 2018 53-man roster. In short, there’s probably a decent chance that Spence has played his last down in the NFL.
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: OLB Bud Dupree
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: OLB Anthony Chickillo
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: OLB James Harrison
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: DE Tyson Alualu
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: DE L.T. Walton
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: DE Stephon Tuitt
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: NT Javon Hargrave
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: OLB T.J. Watt
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: ILB L.J. Fort
Contextualizing The Steelers 2017 Sack Production: CB Mike Hilton