Steelers 2019 Defensive Charting: First 12 Games

Updated our charting for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense through the first three-quarters of the season. We’ll look at the final numbers when the season ends.

– Excluding kneeldowns and “no plays,” the defense has logged 817 snaps through the first 12 games. That puts them on pace for 1089 plays this season, a slightly lower pace than mid-way through the year when they were on pace for 1100 plays. Make no mistake, it’s still a lot of defensive snaps.

– Here are the snap breakdowns by personnel grouping.

Nickel: 51.4%
Dime: 16.9%
1-5-5: 3.8%
3-5-3: 1.6%
4-3: 1.5%
1-4-6: 0.7%
Goal Line: 0.2%

Here are the breakdowns between base and sub. I am including the 4-3 and 3-5-3 as “base” snaps. Nickel, dime, the 1-5-5, and 1-4-6 dime are all included in sub.

Base: 27%
Sub: 73%

– Pittsburgh played their base defense 31% of the time last year. So a slight decrease. Game circumstances always have an impact, as I’m sure you know.

Keith Butler is blitzing 32.6% of the time. He’s sending 5+ rushers at a near identical rate, 32.2%.

Defensive Line


Cam Heyward: 27
Stephon Tuitt: 13
Javon Hargrave: 9
Daniel McCullers: 3
Tyson Alualu: 3
Isaiah Buggs: 0

– Heyward is already up to 27 pressures. He had 30 all of 2018.

Snaps per pressure. Lower the number, the better. Means a higher rate in pressure.

Tuitt: 12.5
Heyward: 14.4
McCullers: 15.7
Hargrave: 30.7
Alualu: 52

– Tuitt’s rate, of course, remains the same. Heyward has been on fire and his pressure rate has gone down over the last month. It was 16.6 through the first eight games. Hargrave’s rate isn’t as strong as it was while Alualu has dipped significantly, though his run defense has continued to be strong.



TJ Watt: 37
Bud Dupree: 28
Vince Williams: 7
Mark Barron: 5
Ola Adeniyi: 3
Devin Bush: 2
Anthony Chickillo: 1

– Watt had 39 pressures last year. Dupree had 33. Both guys should shatter those numbers by year’s end.

Snaps per pressure.

Williams: 4.7
Barron: 9
Watt: 10.9
Adeniyi: 11
Bush: 13
Dupree: 15.4
Chickillo: 40

– Drop rates for Watt and Dupree.

Dupree: 7.5%
Watt: 9.1%

Massive fall off in drop rates compared to previous years. Focus has been on getting these guys forward, not backward. Smart move.

– Some run defense numbers. Opponent yards per carry with these LBs on the field.

Vince Williams: 3.0
Devin Bush: 3.8
Mark Barron: 4.4

To be fair, Williams often plays against heavier personnel when YPC is typically lower but still, more reasons to play Williams over Barron.

– LB target numbers:

Devin Bush: 10/15 105 yards, 3 TDs 1 INT
Mark Barron:
14/23 119 yards, 2 TDs 1 INT

Defensive Backs

Targets stats.

Artie Burns: 2/2 28 yards, 0 TDs 0 INTs
Kam Kelly: 
4/4 49 yards, 1 TD 0 INTs
Minkah Fitzpatrick: 
7/16 58 yards, 2 TDs 4 INTs
Cam Sutton: 
7/17 69 yards 0 TDs 1 INT
Terrell Edmunds: 
17/24 268 yards, 1 TD 0 INTs
Mike Hilton: 
10/25 176 yards, 2 TDs 1 INT
Steven Nelson: 13/27 174 yards 0 TDs 0 INTs
Joe Haden: 23/47 286 yards, 2 TDs 4 INTs

– QB rating of each DB when targeted.

Sutton: 28.8
Haden: 46.9
Fitzpatrick: 53.7
Nelson: 69.1
Hilton: 74.8
Barron: 85.2
Bush: 98.6
Burns: 118.8
Edmunds: 119.8
Kelly: 157.3

Joe Haden has a better passer rating against than Minkah Fitzpatrick which is just insane given the season Minkah’s having. Keep in mind the way I track targets, Haden deflected two passes that were picked by Fitzpatrick, meaning Haden got the credit for the pick. Fitzpatrick deflected Kam Kelly’s INT, which is why he still winds up with four INTs in our charting and Kelly doesn’t have one.

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