There isn’t a bigger topic in Pittsburgh football than the state of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense for the 2018 season, and many fans remain outraged that the team did not do enough to address the defense during the 2018 NFL Draft. While they did draft a safety in the first round, they did not draft another defender until round five, and that was another safety. A third defender, a defensive tackle, was drafted in round seven.
So it’s no surprise that when General Manager Kevin Colbert made a radio appearance, he was asked to explain how and why the defense was going to be better in 2018 than when we last saw them on the field losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home.
Colbert initiated his response with a recap of that game. “Where we ended up was not to anybody’s satisfaction, but in all honesty we talk about the 45 points that the defense gave up” and really it was not as bad as it sounds, he suggested.
“The defense gave up points but we also gave them a short field. The fumble return was seven points, an onside kick that didn’t work to our advantage and they got a short field goal out of it. So when you really add it all together, none of us were really good enough that day, myself included”.
I do think people pay far too much attention on the one result against the Jaguars. As I’ve talked about before, the Steelers’ defense, not including the offense giving up points, had not allowed more than 18 points during a regulation game during the first 10 games of the season, though their fortunes changed in the second half for a number of reasons.
Colbert then talked about the moves that they made in free agency, starting with the linebackers. “We added Jon Bostic, who was a 14-game starter, who’s a younger player. Tyler Matakevich, who was with us last year, got hurt in the same quarter that Ryan Shazier did, so we really don’t know what Tyler can do as a defensive player”, he said, summarizing his post-draft thoughts.
“So we have those two in place, and really that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t add to that position if you could, but when you go through a draft, we’re never going to reach for a player that we don’t think is of that quality”, Colbert continued. “We knew there were some quality players at that position. We also knew our chances of getting them weren’t very good”.
He talked about getting Terrell Edmunds in the first round after bringing in Morgan Burnett. “So you get two players, versatile safety types who can probably help us in sub-packages with some linebacker-type play, and then even in the fifth round with Marcus Allen coming aboard, we had higher grades on Marcus than where he was”.
A recap of what they’ve already done will be small comfort to those who are sure the defense will be terrible this year, but Colbert did leave off with a nugget of hope for such people. “We’ll continue to look. We’re never going to stop looking for help”, he said. And yet, they did trade for two defenders last year.