The offseason is over. Football is back. The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College and training camp is underway. As we are every year, we will be right there providing live feedback and updates, and will be supplementing ourselves throughout the day, every day.
The Steelers are coming off a frustrating season to say the least, posting a 13-3 record with a first-round bye only to be dumped in the Divisional Round by a team that beat them twice, even though they hadn’t even been to the playoffs in a decade.
They’ve added the ingredients that they think they need to fix what ails them, adding new players and coaches, while getting rid of others. Now is when they start mixing up those ingredients and trying to create something powerful.
We still have a lot of questions about this team, and we’ll be monitoring the practices and preseason games looking for answers. As we always do.
Question: How concerning is the struggles in making tackles that the defense showed in the season opener?
The Steelers had a number of different problems on the defensive side of the ball over the course of the season, but arguably the one issue that was consistently present from week to week was the inability to efficiently record tackles without allowing a number of attempts to fall short.
According to Pro Football Focus, the team recorded more missed tackles last season than anybody else in the entire league, and I’m sure there won’t be many people here reading along who would find that very surprising. They had about 10 or so more missed tackles on Thursday against the Eagles in the preseason opener.
But it’s the preseason. It’s also the first preseason game. It’s the first time in months and months that anybody is doing any sort of real serious tackling against a legitimate opponent. Sure, the Steelers do some live tackling in training camp, but doing so inside a stadium against a foreign opponent in a game setting is not replicable on a practice field.
So it would be understandable if many players struggled to play cleanly right now. But a lot of the missed tackles came from players that are expected to play big roles this season, such as Morgan Burnett and Jon Bostic, who were both reliable tacklers last season for their previous teams.
And we know how big of a problem the tackling was last season. We know how much the coaching staff has talked about making it a point of emphasis to play cleaner in that regard this year. We know how important it is for them as a team to improve in this area.
And we saw no sign of improvement. So how concerned should we be over this first preseason game? Should we at least wait another week to see if a trend develops?