Jordan Dangerfield might not be the first name that comes to your mind when thinking about veteran presences on the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, but though he only has two accrued seasons, there actually are not many defenders who have spent more time within the organization, including time on the practice squad and in offseasons.
He has served different roles as a member of the secondary. He started a couple of games back in 2016 at strong safety due to injury. Last year, he served as a sub-package heavy defender, replacing a cornerback in the traditional 3-4 front to counter offensive packages with only one wide receiver.
In other words, he has seen a lot over the years. And one thing that he likes seeing so far this offseason is the number of interceptions that the defense was able to get during the spring, which he mentioned to Jacob Klinger earlier this month for PennLive.
“I would say all the interceptions that we made in the secondary as a defense. Seriously. I mean I thought we’d been doing good, getting a few turnovers a day. Honestly I felt like we was getting 2 or 3 a day, which I think is a good day”, he said. “I think that’s a big improvement so far so I like that”.
Obviously, this is a pretty significant discussion to be having given that the Steelers as a team recorded only eight interceptions throughout the entire season. Joe Haden was the only player with more than one, and he had two. Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Bud Dupree, Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, and Vince Williams had the others. They got none out of the right outside cornerback position between Artie Burns and Coty Sensabaugh.
They are hoping to improve that this year by bringing in Steven Nelson in free agency. Nelson recorded four interceptions last year, which is more than any individual Steelers has recorded in a single season since 2010 when Troy Polamalu had seven.
While the Steelers only recorded eight interceptions, they also dropped about twice as many as that, by some accounts more than any other team in the league. So it’s not necessarily been a matter of being unable to get into position to pick passes off, but rather completing those opportunities.
As Alex Kozora recorded, the defense was actually successful in picking off passes during training camp last year—albeit only one or two from Ben Roethlisberger, if I recall correctly—and that didn’t translate into results during the regular season, however, so let that serve as a cautionary tale.