The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is trying to overcome a host of challenges in 2019. Continue getting pressure on the quarterback, force more turnovers, identify an every-down inside linebacker. One less obvious area for improvement was suggested by Sean Davis last week – disguising coverages.
While his health and contract status dominated the headlines, his answer to asking about the safety group and defense was honestly the most interesting thing.
“I feel like we all just have to be interchangeable, man, just to hold our disguises better and confuse offenses,” he told PennLive’s Jacob Klinger last week.
In a word, the Steelers’ defense was too predictable. It’s an issue we pointed out time and time again. We literally had a September article entitled “Keith Butler’s Defense Is Terrifyingly Predictable.”
To be fair to Keith Butler and company, the way the defense was built made it static. Having a rookie like Terrell Edmunds start almost every game at safety and play more snaps than nearly any other rookie in the league wasn’t part of the plan. Had it been Morgan Burnett, as intended, the defense would’ve been more flexible and versatile. With Edmunds, things were watered down.
There is a silver lining. As the season went along and Edmunds and others became more comfortable in the defense, the defense began to disguise better. Check out our video after the big win over New England that highlights several of these moments, none bigger than Joe Haden’s interception.
Pittsburgh won because of their ability to hide coverages, make Tom Brady go through his reads, which led to pressure and mistakes. Hopefully the Steelers are able to run with this heading into 2019 with a more veteran secondary. Steven Nelson is the new face expected to start at RCB but he’s entering the 5th year in the league and should pick things up much quicker. Even Marcus Allen, who saw limited playing time as a rookie, at least has a year under his belt.
“And, the same thing so we can keep the offense on their toes and hold the disguise a little better in my opinion,” Davis went on to say.
Being able to disguise coverages and confuse quarterbacks will go a long way to creating the turnovers they are starving for in 2019. As we wrote yesterday, their team goal needs to be 25 takeaways.