One of the things that the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to want to be able to do on the defensive side of the ball this season is to get more defensive backs on the field. While they spend more time in their nickel defense than anything else, there will likely be an increase in the usage of the dime, and they are now incorporating a ‘dollar’ defense with seven defensive backs on the field.
This was a look that we only saw incredibly briefly at the end of last season in a package that included seven defensive backs. That included Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, and rookie Cameron Sutton as the cornerbacks, Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell at safety, and William Gay as the dimebacker.
The Steelers are bringing back most of the same personnel, with Mitchell being swapped out for free agent signing Morgan Burnett, who may spend some time in that backer role. Gay was released, and rookie safety Terrell Edmunds will likely be the seventh defensive back in that package now.
Edmunds was asked about the dollar defense and how he thought it would work. “Hopefully it’s going to be nice”, he told reporters. “We’ve just got to go out there, continue to practice and get better at it, and hopefully everything turns out to be well”.
One of the concerns that people have over the usage of the package is whether or not teams would be able to run against that look, a fair concern considering that there are just two defensive linemen and two outside linebackers on the field.
“I’m not worried at all because we still have seven defensive backs in the game, we still can make tackles too”, Edmunds said when asked if he was concerned about that aspect of the game. He also reminded that the look wasn’t entirely new to him.
“We did it at Virginia Tech a lot. We did it at Virginia Tech”, he said. “They tried to [run against it], but Coach Foster, he was big on stopping the run, so that’s what we tried to do all game. And technically, we still had like my brother [on the field], but we always played with a lot of defensive backs in the game”.
While there, Edmunds said that he spent a lot of time being asked to play a role in that package that he is not doing here. “I had to play the nickelback at Virginia Tech so I had to guard the slot more often. Here it’s more just playing true safety so that’s the difference”.
He said that the team is only asking him to focus on the strong safety position right now and that he is more comfortable being asked to cover the bigger players like the tight ends. But whenever they ask him to do different things, he will be ready for it.