Rush And Cover Go Together? Not In Pittsburgh

It’s 2nd and 10. Los Angeles has the ball at the Patriots’ 27, down seven, just over four minutes left in Super Bowl 53. Jared Goff drops back. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores – now head coach in Miami – calls an all-out, Cover 0 blitz. It gets home, Goff forced to throw a lame duck along the right sideline, picked off by corner Stephon Gilmore.

It’s the defining play of an otherwise lackluster Super Bowl. And fits the old adage you’ll hear on every episode of NFL Countdown: rush and cover go together. And to be fair, it’s an accurate statement.

Except in Pittsburgh. These days, at least. When Blitzburgh was still around, it rung true. Not anymore. Sure, the rush has been there. But the cover? Wake me up from this nightmare.

Pressure is the tough part. You need the right players, the right scheme, the right gameplan. Do that and you should produce turnovers. That’s easy. A hurried, off balanced throw. Forcing quarterbacks into bad decisions. But the Steelers are the kid who ace the test but fail because they forgot to put their name on it.

Over the last two seasons, no team in football has recorded more sacks than the Steelers 108. That’s 16 more than second place. And yet, since 2017, they rank near the bottom of the league in takeaways. The disparity between them and the rest of the high-sack teams isn’t just jarring, it should be statistically impossible. Here are the top five teams in sacks and where they rank in turnovers.

1. Pittsburgh – Tied 26th
2. Chicago – Tied 1st
3. Jacksonville – 7th
4. New Orleans – Tied 8th
5. Los Angeles – Tied 1st

Others in the top ten? Washington and Baltimore, who are eighth and sixth in takeaways. Inexplicably, the Steelers are hanging out with the Titans, Packers, and barely ahead of the Falcons.

Look at this way. Since 2000, there have been 11 teams to record 100 total sacks over a two year span. Nine of them had at least 50 takeaways and no team had fewer than 43. The Steelers? Just 37. Unacceptable in every sense of the word.

It’s all part of the larger argument we’ve been making for nearly a full year now. There aren’t enough playmakers on this defense. You know that, I know that, but it’s important to put the numbers to it. Put exactly how bad things are in perspective.

Because the numbers are horrific, that’s as blunt as I can possibly put it and the only solution is changing personnel. Immediately.

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