Steelers DBs Need To Get Home (Or Keith Butler Needs To Stop Sending Them)

The Pittsburgh Steelers have never been shy about blitzing their secondary. Carnell Lake led the team with six of them in 1997. Troy Polamalu flew around like a madman and today, Mike Hilton has been lauded for his blitzing ability, still the only corner in NFL history to record three of them in a game.

2018 hasn’t been off to a great start in replicating that type of history. Through six weeks, and yeah, I know, still a lot of football left, no Steelers’ DB has registered a sack.

What’s worse? Pittsburgh is sending them even more. A lot more. Let’s compare their DB blitz percentage over the last three years.

2018: 18.4%
2017: 10.4%
2016: 11.6%

Blitzing more. Less success. Not great, Bob.

Are they at least getting pressure? That number looks better but this year is still lagging behind.

2018: 18%
2017: 23.1%
2016: 22.4%

In Mike Tomlin’s tenure, only once have the Steelers gone an entire season without someone in the secondary dropping the QB. That came in 2014, when they finished with a lowly 33 of them. Of course, like I said above, there’s plenty of time for that to change, and I expect it will, but right now, they’re definitely below the line.

Having Mike Hilton back healthy is obviously huge and can go a long ways to fixing these numbers. Thank your lucky stars he’s around – and avoided serious injury – because the rest of this DB group are pretty terrible blitzers. Cam Sutton doesn’t have the innate feel Hilton does. We’ve covered that before. Terrell Edmunds looks tentative trying to rush up the middle, recording only one pressure on 14 blitzes. That’s a pressure rate of 7.1%. Compare that to Sean Davis, who generated pressure 23.8% of the time from his SS spot last season (full disclosure: we’re dealing with small numbers/sample sizes with both).

Seventeen teams this year have at least half a DB sack. The Steelers aren’t part of that group. For this defense to get pressure at its best, they need to join. And fast.

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