Steelers 2018 Final Defensive Charting

For the final time of the season, charting notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 defense. If you have any other questions and stats you’d like us to look up, let us know in the comments below.

– Excluding kneeldowns and “no plays,” this is out of 1021 defensive snaps.

– If you’re curious, year-by-year defensive snaps dating back to 2014.

2014: 944
2015: 1102
2016: 1040
2017: 979
2018: 1021

– Your personnel groups for the year.

3-4: 30%
Nickel: 29.4%
Dime: 37.2%
3-3-5: 1.6%
Goal Line: 1%
Dollar: 0.2%
4-3: 10 1%

Keep in mind for some of these, there are variations. The 3-4 over, “big” dime, but this is looking at it from a slightly bigger perspective. Let’s compare how 3-4, nickel, and dime compare to 2017. They are in parentheses.

3-4: 30% (38.3%)
Nickel: 29.4% (36%)
Dime: 37.2 (24%)

So we’re seeing them lean heavier towards dime with a reduction in 3-4 and nickel. Nickel was run only three plays, all coming in Week 16 against New Orleans, the final three weeks of the season. Keep that in mind for 2019. They were playing dime in all situations, not just “obvious pass” like they have in previous seasons.

– In total, when you break up every variation of 3-4, dime, etc, the Steelers ran 14 different groupings this season. They had 11 such groupings in 2017.

– Here’s how they look from a base vs sub perspective.

Base snaps: 31%
Sub package snaps: 68.4%

I did exclude goal line from here since they don’t fall into either category. The Steelers were in base 38.8% of the time last year. In 2016, they were in base 27.8% of the time. Some fluctuation of that number based off game circumstance but if you want to tie a bow on it, projecting a season out, Pittsburgh will be in base roughly 30% of the time.

– Here are Keith Butler’s blitz rates to close out the year.

Blitz Rate: 44.1%

Here are his blitz rates year-by-year and one from 2014, Dick LeBeau’s final year as DC.

2014: 28%
2015: 33.3%
2016: 39.7%
2017: 33.2%
2018: 44.1%

Obviously a career high for this team with Butler as DC.

Looking at rushes with at least five rushers from 2018:

5+ Rush Rate: 36%

Again, year-by-year.

2015: 33.6%
2016: 27.7%
2017: 19.5%
2018: 36%

So we went from his lowest rate in 2017 to his highest rate in 2018. It’s not a surprise to see this team finish top five in sacks, given how much pressure they sent after quarterbacks.

He also sent three of fewer rushes much less often. Number dropped from 16.6% in 2017 to just 6.2% in 2018. So this past year was “year of the pressure.” Outside linebackers dropped into coverage much less often too, which you’ll see below.

– Let’s look at this position by position.

Defensive Line


Cam Heyward: 30
Stephon Tuitt: 22
Javon Hargrave: 12
Daniel McCullers: 3
Tyson Alualu: 3
L.T. Walton: 1

Snaps per pressure. Lower the number, the better.

Heyward: 18.4
Tuitt: 21.7
Hargrave: 18.8
McCullers: 16.7
Alualu: 53
Walton: 23

Heyward and Tuitt saw their pressure rate dip, Tuitt’s nearly doubled unfortunately, while Hargrave’s literally stayed the same. Literally a carbon copy of last year. 12 pressure, 18.8 pressure rate. He actually saw just a handful of more pass rush snaps in 2018 (226 this year compared to 211 last year). His ability to finish more plays was critical and reason why his sack total spiked.



T.J. Watt: 39
Bud Dupree: 33
Vince Williams: 19
Anthony Chickillo: 8
Jon Bostic: 7
L.J. Fort: 5

Snaps per pressure:

Vince: 6.3
Bostic: 6.9
Fort: 11
Watt: 12
Dupree: 13.8
Chickillo: 19.9

And drop rate for the OLBs.

Dupree: 18.3%
Watt: 19.3%
Chickillo: 17.2%

Big changes from last year. In 2017, Dupree dropped 24.7% of the time. Watt was much higher at 37.3%. Focus this year was to let them get after the QB. There’s his obvious progression but Watt’s sack number rose in part to greater opportunity. His pressure rate actually slightly decreased from his rookie year. Went from roughly 300 pass rush chances in 2017 to 467 in 2018.

Defensive Backs

– Target stats from the secondary:

Joe Haden: 26/53 299 yards, 2 TDs 2 INTs
Coty Sensabaugh: 20/34 243 yards, 2 TDs
Mike Hilton: 13/27 201 yards, 2 TDs
Artie Burns: 15/20 239 yards, 4 TDs
Sean Davis: 8/17 186 yards, 3 TDs 1 INT
Terrell Edmunds: 9/16 169 yards 0 TDs, 1 INT
Morgan Burnett: 8/16 144 yards 1 TD 0 INTs
Cam Sutton: 8/12 118 yards 1 TD, 1 INT

Hilton led the secondary with 11 pressures.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!