Every coach has their strengths and weaknesses and the same holds true for Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler. While the notion that Butler could possibly have any strengths may seem absurd to some, there is no denying that since Butler has taken over the coordinator position in 2015, he has maximized the full potential of this unit when it comes to getting after the quarterback.
The Steelers made Andy Dalton’s night as miserable as possible on Monday, recording eight sacks and 12 quarterback hits. This was not just a one-off occasion, as the Steelers have feasted on quarterbacks more than any other team since Butler took over in 2015.
Monday night was the sixth time since 2015 that the Steelers recorded seven or more sacks in a game. No other team in the NFL has more than four. There have been 46 games where a quarterback has been sacked seven or more times since 2015 and the Steelers are responsible for 13-percent of those games themselves.
Quarterbacks in these games have struggled mightily as one would expect, carrying a passer rating of 54.1 while completing just over 50-percent of passes with just four touchdown passes and seven interceptions. The Steelers recorded 44 sacks in the six games listed above, which would be more than 22 teams recorded last season.
The utter destruction of the Bengals’ offensive line Monday was just another annihilation of a division rival. Five of the six games in which the Steelers recorded seven or more sacks have happened to come against the Bengals and Cleveland Browns, two teams who have been known to have poor offensive lines.
Due to the poor play of the opposing offensive line, one might wonder just how much praise Butler should receive? Butler deserves credit not because his defenses beat up on bad offensive lines but because he recognized a weakness and attacked it with a vengeance. The Steelers have led the NFL in sacks over the last two seasons and are currently fourth in sacks this season but they have done it without relying on a sole player or position group. Whether it be the defensive line, outside linebackers, inside linebackers or even the secondary, every position group has had a chance to enjoy a piece of the pie.
Below is a sack breakdown by position over the last three seasons.
DL – 8 Sacks
OLB – 4.5 Sacks
ILB – 1.5 Sacks
DB – 0 Sacks
DL – 21 Sacks
OLB – 20 Sacks
ILB – 8 Sacks
DB – 2 Sacks
DL – 23 Sacks
OLB – 17 Sacks
ILB – 10 Sacks
DB – 6 Sacks
In total, that is 52 sacks by the defensive line, 41.5 sacks by the outside linebackers, 19.5 sacks by the inside linebackers and eight sacks by the secondary. The Steelers have spread the wealth when it comes to getting after the quarterback and Butler’s stunts and blitz schemes are a big reason why.
That is not to say that Butler does not have any faults. His response when defending empty sets leaves a lot to be desired but you have to give credit where credit is due and Butler deserves a lot of credit for putting the blitz back in ‘Blitzburgh’.