Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree has stated quite a few times during this year’s OTA practices that he believes he would have had a higher sack total last season had he not been held on a few plays and just missed taking down the opposing quarterback on a few other play. In fact, Dupree added specifics to that claim.
According to a Thursday report by Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Dupree has estimated that he was denied six sacks last season with four being prevented by holding calls that his pass rush initiated in addition to two near misses he had in games against the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals.
Dupree was even quoted saying nearly the same thing a few weeks ago by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“I had four holding calls [against me] that would have been clear strip sacks,” Dupree said. “I also missed two or three [sacks] where I had my hands on the quarterback. So, total that up, that’s seven with the six I had, that’s easily double digits right there. And the conversation would be different.”
I thought it would be fun to go back and try to find the missed sack plays that Dupree referenced during OTAs based on the information he provided. While I was only able to find three of the four holding calls against Dupree, I think I was able to find both near misses.
Below are the five plays that I found that matched Dupree’s explanation and they are in order:
Week 8 vs Browns: 2-9-CLV 5 – 3Q (8:13) – B.Mayfield pass short left to N.Chubb to CLV 6 for 1 yard (V.Williams). PENALTY on CLV-D.Harrison, Offensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced in End Zone, SAFETY – No Play.
Against the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, Dupree beat left tackle Desmond Harrison around the edge on 2nd and 9 play from the Cleveland 5 yard-line and he was held in the end zone while bearing down on quarterback Baker Mayfield. Not only did this draw a flag, but the Steelers were award a safety because the hold took place in the end zone. This is indeed a play were Dupree was shorted a sack via a hold.
Week 9 vs Ravens: 3-12-BLT 39 – 2Q (1:08) – (Shotgun) J.Flacco pass short middle to J.Allen to BLT 41 for 2 yards (S.Davis) [S.Tuitt]. Penalty on BLT-J.Eluemunor, Offensive Holding, declined
Against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9, Dupree once again a drew a holding call on a left tackle and that hold clearly prevented him getting a sack. The Steelers ultimately decided to decline the holding penalty because the result of the play, a completed pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to running back Javorius Allen for a gain of 2 yards, was well short of the line to make.
Week 10 vs Panthers: 2-9-CAR 26 – 1Q (9:19) – C.Newton pass incomplete short left. Pressure by 48-Dupree, 79-Hargrave
In the Steelers Week 10 blowout win against the Panthers, Dupree missed out on yet another sack and this one was on him. After beating the left tackle around the edge at the snap of the football, Dupree quickly flattens out and has a nice angle on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for what looks like is sure to be a sack. Newton, however, is able to take a last-second step forward and Dupree’s high tackle attempt on the quarterback results in an easy slip off. after dodging Dupree, Newton slides out of the pocket to his left and is ultimately able to throw the football away out of bounds.
Week 12 vs Broncos: 3-8-DEN 27 – 3Q (9:50) – (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass incomplete short right to E.Sanders (M.Burnett, M.Hilton). Penalty on DEN-J.Veldheer, Offensive Holding, declined.
Against the Denver Broncos in week 12, Dupree missed out on getting yet another sack due to him being held and dragged down by a left tackle. Once again, this held was needed due to Dupree winning the edge with his get-off and speed. The hold allowed Broncos quarterback Case Keenum a chance to extend the play to his right but his 3rd down throw ultimately was incomplete, so the Steelers decided to decline the penalty to force a punt.
Week 17 vs Bengals: 2-8-CIN 36 – 1Q (3:00) – (Shotgun) J.Driskel pass incomplete short left [C.Sutton]. Pressure by 20-Sutton, 48-Dupree.
On this 2nd down play against the first quarter of the Bengals, Dupree seemingly has more of a contain role as he barely engages the Cincinnati left tackle. Once Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel is forced from the pocket by the defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and cornerback Cameron Sutton, Dupree attempts to get the scrambler before he’s able to get rid of the football, Dupree and Sutton are just a tad late, however, as Driskel was able to throw the football away out of bounds.
Summary: The final “miss” against the Bengals can certainly be argued as Sutton probably had the better chance for the sack than Dupree did. Perhaps the two would have split a sack had they gotten to Driskel before he threw the football away. As for Dupree’s claim that he drew four holding calls last season, I could only find three. There’s a chance he was clearly held on a play that would have resulted in a sack but it wasn’t called. I will continue to look for that play. In the end, I think the examples above show that Dupree clearly missed out on at least four sacks in 2018. Those four sacks, had he gotten them, along with maybe a half sack in the finale against the Bengals, would have put him right at 10 for the season.